Sports Day with Colombia Sin Fronteras
As of now, Sports for Development is working in 3 communities surrounding the city of Santa Marta. Fundadores, Oasis, and Valle de Gaira. Each community houses a different vibe shaped by the environment that surrounds it and the people that fill it. Valle de Gaira is a peaceful hill community highlighted by the sweet charm of it’s people and the stunning views from it’s main road that serve as the backdrop to our field site.
We work closely with the foundation Colombia Sin Fronteras (C.S.F.). C.S.F. is a cultural center that focuses on enriching the lives of elementary school aged kids in the region through pre-school, literacy, mathematics, and cultural studies classes. C.S.F. is directed by a soft but sure-handed Santa Marta native, Libia Maria Charris, and is staffed by an Amazing group of volunteers that represent 5 countries.
The kids of C.S.F. are energetic, inquisitive, friendly and dignified despite the under-privileged upbringings in a community that lives humbly without access to many basic infrastructures. The kids are grateful for the work of all volunteers involved and any volunteer who arrives at the community center is greeted by an attack of hugs and kisses that are quick to remind one why they love this work. Although the mix of eclectic personalities and preferences amongst the students can make your head spin, one of their smiles can just as quickly alleviate all anxiety and frustration.
The children love sports day, and have been exemplary in their willingness to learn other games, drills and sports beyond their ultimate passion of fútbol.
Charlie and myself have formed a weekly schedule that was created with the intention of bringing organization to each sports day and introducing the kids to a wide range of different activities that work on a range of factors involved with physical exercise.
For example, stretching is an important and stressed part of each day. Teaching kids about the need to prepare the body for physical activity in order to avoid injury and soreness may not be as fun as throwing the ball in the middle of the field, but it is just as important as the fun that they have. Values of teamwork, fair play, and sportsmanship are emphasized throughout the relay races, mini-games, skill drills, instruction and scrimmages. All of the students are eager to play, however are not used to playing sports under the guidance of structured programs and value lessons.
This unfamiliarity can lead to issues related to un-sportsmanship and fair play, however any issues that come up serve as teaching platforms for the students to improve their communication and conflict resolution skills.
This last Friday marked yet another successful, entertaining and enjoyable day. The kids worked hard and followed rules during the relay races designed by Charlie and participated well in the new sports they have been learning; Rugby and “PassBall” (a game that uses skills from basketball…but is adapted for an area without hoops). The kids are getting excited for the sports tournament at the end of the month (March 31st) and are working hard to improve their individual and team skills during each Friday Sports Day.