Written by Brittany Leitch

On My Way Out | Soccer Under the Sun

Today was my last official day as “Soccer Coach” for Kiteyagwa School. The sports’ teachers will continue where I left off, but it is bitter (not sweet) leaving these fun students. We have had a great time together learning Swahili (me) and soccer. I’m impressed by how much they have grown and improved since we began. 

The sun was bright and warm on the field, which is my favorite type of weather. It was a great day :) 
Written by Brittany Leitch

Kiteyagwa Soccer Day

Thanks to COSAD’s “Container Day”, we found 22 pairs of sport shorts packed neatly in the container between medical sheets and supplies.  Between my excitement and COSAD’s generosity, the shorts were quickly donated to Kiteyagwa’s sports program!  Right now, the shorts are being used for the girls’ soccer team.  Today at practice I couldn’t stop smiling and commenting on how great the team looked in their uniforms (which is why I’m blogging so I can share pics) 😉  Admittedly, we are still limited on equipment, but slowly and surely we find ways to make due.  We have 11 jerseys which is why the “uniformed” girls look sparse in pictures, but 11 jerseys are all a team needs to play in a match, so it works!  Socks, shinguards and shoes are “optional” at this point, but hopefully we can see some provision in this area too.

Today at practice, the team started to learn a new passing drill.  I tried this drill last month with one group, but it seemed like a lost cause.  Today, more than half of the team caught on to the passing drill which made me a very happy coach!  

Jerseys and new shorts counted and ready for practice!

Within the Kiteyagwa girls’ soccer program, we have two “teams” – A&B.  They were once used to arrange scrimmages, but now the girls have a friendly rivalry and don’t take kindly to exchanging players between “teams”.  They have learned each other’s playing styles & are developing some chemistry, so I don’t blame them too much :) .  Pictured is team “B” getting to wear the full uniform for the first time.  Next week it will be A’s turn..

Written by Brittany Leitch

Queen of the Field

My heart beats just a little stronger each week when I walk to the soccer field with the soccer girls.  Our team has exponentially improved over the last month!  We are now split into two team, and the past few weeks we have been scrimmaging to learn positions and “real-field-play”.  Most of our players are now settled into semi-set positions, which is exciting for me, and helpful for the girls.  They are fiercely competitive, which provides me with ample opportunities to gently remind them they also need to practice good sportsmanship and support their teammates.  They are learning dynamic stretching, and they can celebrate a goal better than the college team that plays near us.  Edina (co-coach and school teacher) coaches and referees with me, and she is always spot-on with her input and calls.    

Last week happened to be a challenging week!  We started off warming up, and soon began our 60 minute scrimmage (two 30 minute halves).  Towards the end of the first half, Edina had to leave to return to the school.  About that time, one of the boys from the secondary school politely asked when we would be finished playing.  (Important note: though we share a field with several schools, we have arranged to use the field for two hours once a week, so this is no surprise to these kids).  Politely asking quickly turned into complaining when I told him we had one 30 minute half left.  As our second half started, I soon realised I was going to spend the majority of my energy deflecting their hackling and chanting, and continually asking 30+ teenage/pre-teen boys to PLEASE get off of the field while we were playing- in Swahili of course- all while encouraging my girls to ignore them and keep playing.  SO STRESSFUL.  

To their credit, the boys did back off in increments of 3 minutes or so, and I learned while under pressure I can whip out relatively helpful Swahili rebukes to keep the boys in their place. I succeeded in keeping a majority of them off the field for most of the second half so the girls could finish playing.  It’s too bad the girls had to deal with their bad behavior, but I’m glad they were able to finish their scrimmage!  When my watch his “60:00” I cannot tell you how fast I got off that field with our team.  That might have been the most stressful 30 minutes of soccer I have ever been a part of: keeping a unruly heard of boys off the field for 30 minutes straight, trying to speak Swahili, with no other adults in sight!  AHH!!!  I felt like I was playing “King of the Hill”!  Turned out to be a growing experience for me, but none the less, next week I am bringing reinforcements.  :) 

Our scrimmaging teams: “B” & “A”
Warming up..
Waiting for the game to begin.. Look in the back of the picture, and you’ll see our unique goal!

Post-scrimmage pic a few weeks ago.

Written by Brittany Leitch

Joining the Girls’ Soccer Team

Since I have been working with COSAD, I’ve had the great pleasure to invest some of my time in one of my favorite things: soccer.   Coordinating with COSAD, Principal Justina, and the two teachers in charge of sports at Kiteyagwa Primary School (Monica & Anajoyce), we’ve put together a small team of 26 girls, ages 10-15.  Once a week I walk over to the school and enjoy 2 hours on the field with these sweet kids.

Monica & Anajoyce hope we can acquire some additional gear for the team and play surrounding school in the near future.  There are a few challenges before that can happen, but all in time I hope we can make this a fun and spirited time for everyone.  With the enthusiastic support and provision of the school, it has taken surprisingly little effort on COSAD’s part to help launch the team (which is a fantastic picture of teamwork- neither of us could make it happen alone).  COSAD is primarily providing “the coach”, which is me!  

We had try-outs two weeks ago, which Monica helped me navigate.  We had 86 girls, two soccer balls, and I had two sheets of paper with Swahili phrases pertinent to practice.  I was so nervous, holding my breath the entire time, but it turned out to be a major success.  I was so proud of how well the kids followed directions with my limited Swahili and Charades.  It was heartbreaking having to turn most of the girls away, but it is fun to personally start to know the remaining 26 girls.  They are fun to work with and full of energy!

The idea of starting a similar boy’s team was brought up by the sports teachers, but because of my main duties at COSAD, it is not possible for me to do at this time.  If anyone wants to come volunteer to coach with me…. maybe we can make it happen??? 

Tryouts: Divided 86 girls into 12 small teams to play 7v.7.
Tryouts: Groups of seven sat patiently around the field waiting for their turn to play!  It was all I could do to keep things organized with nearly zero Swahili vocabulary.   

Tryouts: Nearing the end, the kids were amazing :) 

Girl’s team: First practice 1v.1’s

Girls’ Team: 1v.1 coaching…