Sports day

Once a week on a Thursday the full school heads down to the local open dirt area field, for sports day. Often the local giant rodent and other neighbourhood kids join the fun.

The kids are always bursting with energy, eager to get their feet as dirty as possible, and  occasionally interested in following instructions. We play games, like:

  • Candlesticks (also known as stuck in the mud)
  • Variations of bull rush called toros or sharks and fishes
  • Running races and relays

Vamos en circulo! Getting them in a circle is just the beginning of our challenges.
Vamos en circulo! Getting them in a circle is just the beginning of our challenges.

And often we relent to the growing cries and let the kids play football. Football is massive here especially in this world cup year where Colombia has a genuine shot at victory.

Our kids take themselves most seriously when they’re playing football. Although actually there are a couple of key differences between what they play, and football. Scoring goals is still the nominal aim, but touching the ball is the real goal. So they all swarm around the ball and charge up and down the field like killer bees chasing the ball. And when your team begins losing the appropriate response is to either a) go and sulk on the side of the field or b) push over the competition, both of which are counterproductive.

Time out. Your Spanish doesn't have to be perfect, so long as your tone of voice is clear.
Time out. Your Spanish doesn’t have to be perfect, so long as your tone of voice is clear.

So while the kids love it, we’re not especially enamored with football. The last few weeks we haven’t played, and we’ve just about managed to hold the kids attention with other games. Some new volunteers with sports backgrounds have taught games that focus on team work, jumping through a skipping rope together.

It’s still a struggle to hold the kids’ attention when you’re asking them to run around one minute then sit still and listen the next. Fighting isn’t rare, and Time Out is common. But every time we trudge back up the hill for water and bananas without the kids having chanted for football, we chalk it up as a victory.

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