Current Child Count

  • HOGAR DE AMOR I: 11 babies
  • HOGAR DE AMOR II: 6 boys
  • HOGAR DE AMOR III: 8 girls

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Soccer Mom

The honest truth: before moving to Bolivia I had never been to a soccer game. Then living here, I went to an average of one or two games a year as a cultural experience, 95% of the reason being to have fun with friends or visitors or kids I was going with, and to enjoy the scenery of majestic mountains and El Cristo statue visible from above the stadium.

Then comes 2010 and street work, and once or twice a MONTH I now go to the stadium with anywhere from 6 to 20 of the street population to help them cheer on their favorite team, Wilstermann!

Then comes May 2010! We get news of this year’s street kid soccer championship being put on by another non-profit here. I immediately recognized the potential of the kids pulling together to focus on something besides the next fight or girlfriend/boyfriend problems. So all of a sudden, I am thrust into the world of FUTBOL!!

I’m the delegate for the Huana Kapac bridge team. Definitely my Spanish vocabularly of sports terms has increased dramatically. I’m also coming up to speed on strategy, of which I knew about exactly ZERO before May.

My first taks was filling out the forms for each of our players (10), complete with photos that I took.

And now every Wednesday morning, I start my rounds early of picking up the guys (and sometimes their young families) who have left the bridge over the course of this year to start new lives. It takes at least 1 ½ hours to hook up with everyone, from their houses and two street locations—always an interesting challenge when no one but me has a cell phone, although everyone has my number memorized and I get plenty of calls on Wednesdays!

On game day, I run back and forth between our team, those running the games, and other kids wanting to talk to me from other parts of town, plus of course watching our team play.

I collect 1.5 Bolivianos (approximately 21 cents) from each one before the game starts to pay the referee, plus 3 Bolivianos each for any yellow cards from previous games, or else that player has to sit out.

I count how many came with us (players + family + friends) for refreshment time.

I give the officials a list of player names, who will start and who will sub, and who is wearing which number.

And I definitely yell and shout to encourage “my team”!

Another ongoing task is helping them with the uniforms—loaning missing pieces as needed, overseeing the swapping that goes on depending on who is playing first (not all have complete uniforms), marking the number on with a marker in case of new players or new shirts.

One recent Wednesday on our way to the game location outside the city, I not only had 15 people in my car (a CAR folks, not van or truck), I had a freshly washed jersey hanging out my window to dry out—I think we were getting lots of stares, but I was too busy to pay much attention to anything besides my clown car, ha!

And then one of the trickier parts of being soccer mom to this bunch: the hand over of glue bottles before game time. We were doing a pretty good job of controlling glue sniffing of the players, but it’s been decided that we need to up our control of the girlfriends and by standers to be more true to this year’s championship motto “no vuelos, no violencia” (no getting high, no violence). The first week, most of the bottles were left at the street. The second week, I had a large store keep back in my car but upon giving them back one guy was left without his. If they can’t trust me to give them back, they might not hand them over at all—not good. So by the third week I remembered to take a permanent marker and a Ziploc and that worked nicely.

Last Thursday was a holiday in Bolivia, and about 8 of us went to watch a big game at the stadium. I have to say that’s the first time I’ve truly watched a game, even if I had to hold up my hands to shield my eyes from the sun to be able to see anything other than a bright glare, and understood a lot of what was going on, and truly enjoyed watching it, apart from the fellowship of those I went with! To top it all off, our team won 3-1 with a couple pretty dramatic goals. Fun times! Now they are back in Cochabamba for the championship final tomorrow night, but it's my turn with the triplets so not sure if I'll get to go.

Team picture, Week 1 (minus two players)

Yep, I can now add "soccer mom" to my (imaginary) mother resume. =)


Amy said...

Jen, I love it! Keep up the good work! :)

Gallo Pinto2 said...

Wow! That is quite the job! But I love that they have their own team to play on!!!!!

Jennifer T. said...

Great to hear from you, Amy! The America team is in the yellow jerseys, if you can see someone you recognize.

It is a pretty neat deal. We all kind of wish there were more than just five games!

Mama D.'s Dozen said...

That is sooo..... cool! Way to go, Soccer Mom!!!

I love to see the doors that the Lord opens when His servants are truly open to serving Him.