Monday, May 27, 2013

End-of-School-Year Games Day

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Today was a big day for CFDP. We hosted an End-of-the-School-Year Games Day at the Multi-purpose Youth Center in Kumba for some of the secondary schools and football academies with which we are partnered. Over 100 kids were in attendance, nearly 30 of which were girls! The day was a huge success.

Here's a schedule of how the day broke down:

9:30 a.m. We began by running a number of education-based football games around the schoolyard. The games were education-based in the sense that each one had an educational message tied into it. For example, one game was a team juggling—or “tapping” as they call it in Cameroon—competition, where each team was given a five minute time period to see how long they could juggle the ball with their feet amongst each other without letting it touch the ground. Before and after each game, though, a CFDP leader would take a few minutes to ask the players about what mental skills they needed in order to be successful at the particular game. So, for the tapping competition, players need “focus,” “consistency,” “self-control,” “teamwork,” etc. Next, the CFDP leader would have a discussion with the players about how these skills translate to real life, outside of the football pitch. The idea of CFDP is that we are using football to help teach kids about mental skills, or concepts—rather than technical skills, such as “ball control,” or “one-touch passing”—that they need not only in order to be good players on the field, but that can translate to real life skills off the field, too. Anyway, back to the games. In total, there were 11 stations, 11 teams, and around 10 players per team. Teams rotated around the field to each station. Each station had its own leader and there was a separate educational component to each station. Teams were evaluated not only based on how they scored in each game, but also on how responsive they were during the discussion of each game’s educational component. At the end of the day, the teams with the best scores in each category were awarded with football jerseys, shorts, socks, shin guards, and shoes. (Thanks to everyone back home that donated this stuff!)

12 p.m. Once the games were over, we had other organizations also working in Kumba, such the Peace Corps and Global Conscience Initiative (GCI), another NGO, come in and do educational group discussion sessions with all the kids. These activities were non-football related. For example, there were classroom discussions about maintaining good personal hygiene, malaria prevention, etc.

2 p.m. Lunch

3 p.m. We had all the kids complete a survey so that we could see how receptive they were to our educational material. (Remember—Although the day involved lots of football, ultimately, CFDP is about education!)

4 p.m. Awards ceremony. As I mentioned earlier, we awarded all the teams that performed best in the games competitions with all sorts of soccer equipment.

Overall, the End-of-School-Year Games Day was an enormous success. I myself ran a game station in the morning and acted as "event photographer" throughout the day. It was an absolute joy to be a part of the action and it was incredibly rewarding to see all the kids engaged and responsive to our educational messages.

Later in the week, CFDP’s management team had a discussion about the Games Day. Someone remarked that no one else in Kumba--no one in Cameroon’s entire South West Region for that matter--hosts “games days” for kids and rewards them with football equipment that they would otherwise never have, like CFDP does. I am left feeling really proud to be part of such a unique, innovative, and impactful organization. 

Caroline, a member of CFDP's Kumba Management Team, leads an ice-breaking activity with a group of kids as they warm up for the day's activities.

Collins, a member of CFDP's Kumba Management Team, addresses the kids just before the activities get under way.

Modest, a CFDP-trained "leader" from one of our partnered youth football academies, discusses with a group of kids the educational significance of a football drill they just completed.

Kim, a native of Holland and employee of Needs for Children, another NGO also operating in Kumba, gives a presentation about the importance of personal hygiene and malaria prevention.

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