“So, where are you all from?”
“I’m from Haiti!"
And it doesn’t stop there; El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Morocco and Cape Verde were also represented on August 6th by the almost 40 participants of the FHI 360 Youth Soccer and ESL Sports Visitor program and SWB Boston soccer clinic. These participants would spend the next 5 mornings together developing their soccer skills by participating in drills and scrimmages led by SWB staff from Baltimore, Boston, Oakland, and Uganda.
With participants from so many different countries, the soccer clinic introduced an additional element to soccer learning: how do you learn to play with people of such diverse backgrounds?
Very few differences matter when you can speak the language of soccer. Joel, a participant from Costa Rica noted, “I think soccer definitely is one of the most powerful keys to make the people come together no matter the country you come from, the language you speak, ideologies you follow or the ethnicity you are.”
What is so unique about soccer is that it is a universally shared pastime; its reach extends to the most rural corners of the world to the most developed, where some play barefoot in dirt with balls made out of plastic bags and others play in leagues at the collegiate level. Regardless, the love for the game is the same. Laure, a clinic participant from Haiti said, “the joy a person has while he is playing makes him understand that even if our color, language or culture could be different, soccer is a common form of communication.”
And that is what this unique soccer clinic revealed.
By the end of the week, coaches and players alike were surprised at the strong bonds they had formed after spending the short time together: “At the end it was a big family with the participants and the coaches,” said Ghaelle also from Haiti, “It was exciting to know about their languages, their culture and their positive minds.”
“My experience at the soccer clinic was completely amazing!! I really enjoyed sharing with people from different countries so we could let our differences behind and be part of a very special soccer week!!” said Joel.
Soccer can teach you so much about the world and the people living in it. “The best way to learn is while playing...the word learning refers to the way we exchange our culture and language, and step by step our differences mix together and build something bigger,” says Laure.