“I hope that each and every one of you will all be able to contribute positively to Tanzanian football after this course”. Martino Chevannes
Identity is a big issue for children who have been living on the streets. Often they arrive at the Kuleana Centre in Mwanza with nothing but the clothes they are wearing. A birth certificate, passport or national identity is a pipe dream; never had one, lost it along the way, no chance of proving who they are.
Today the QPR coaches, Martino and Gareth, started the session with the coaches by talking about identity. As an icebreaker the coaches were asked about their favourite football team, their coaching experience so far but also to share something about themselves that would interest others.
We then moved on to setting a code of conduct for coaches. Participants were asked to contribute their thoughts to the code for themselves this week and especially to think about how they create a safe space for children when they come to train. If the children are having a tough time then at least when they come to training they know that the coach will set a high standard of personal behaviour and create an environment where they can just play football for a few hours.
One of the key teachings on day one of the course is that the new coaches come from different starting points but are heading to the same destination. In the same way, the outdoor practical sessions focused not on the excellence of some players but how to develop a session that is inclusive for players of all abilities.
A distinguishing feature of this course is that it doesn’t just contain football. Each day gives time to a different group to speak to the participants about the difficult issues. For the coaches, today was an introduction to the issues facing children from the street. (Kutani) from the centre spoke about the Tanzania Children’s Act, which was only passed in 2009.
As the day progressed the trainees became more and more animated. The final session of the day asked what makes an effective coach. The twist was that the participants had to draw what they thought a great coach should be like. It was yet another expression of identity.
You may notice I used “children who have been living on the streets” not “street children”. This is because here in Mwanza, the kids don’t want to be defined by where they live, they want to be identified as children. This is them changing and stamping their identity, taking control back of their lives.
In the same way that the new coaches are starting from different stand points and finding out where they want to be, everyone joining the Street Child World Cup is coming from a different starting point but heading to the same destination. We’re on the Road to Rio, are you coming with us?
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