La Liga

Its back, la liga infantil/juvenil de futbol campo is up and running and stronger than ever. After much apprehension and anxiety I have gotten my act together and am working with La Liga 2.0. Like my SPA project it has not been a perfectly smooth ride, but I don’t care, it is soccer and it is fun. While it may not be my main project and is not exactly what Peace Corps wants me doing, it is my baby project and is what keeps me sane while in San Dionisio. I am surprised how much I missed all of my kids and spending my Saturdays down at the field with 200 of my closest friends. This year we made several improvements from the previous year. We have divided the youth league into two different age brackets: U-13 and 14-16. The idea is that this will allow more players to participate and it will be a safer experience for the smaller kids. Last year we only set a maximum age limit and the issue we found was that all the teams wanted to be as close to the limit as they could and many smaller kids felt too intimidated to play. This year there are 10 teams; 6 of the teams are U-13 and only 4 are 14-16. The reason that there are not more teams this year is that this is a layover league. Let me explain, the main time for soccer is between September and December, but with my constant badgering and the interest of the kids we decided to do a small league in the summer to spark interest and give an outlet for the kids. With the help of Professor Diego (director of the adult league) we created a 2.5month bracket for the 10 teams and have gone one step further… we are a federation. I am still not exactly sure what that means, but it means kids have to pay C$10 to enter (50cents) and supposedly we are recognized by the overall league in Matagalpa. The perk is that with this money the teams feel more committed and responsible and the money can be put towards buying trophies at the end of the league. I want to give a huge thank you to my Aunt Ana for her help with my soccer league this year. Thanks to her and the families at her church we were able to supply each team with a soccer ball and give over 60 cleats to the players. Since Christmas I have coordinated with Ana to send donations to my town from the States and 5 months later and many confusing phone calls they have come. Why so long? I am glad you asked, the cleats were sent down via boat on a private currier to keep costs down and well, it is Nicaragua and things just don’t move as fast. The point is that they are here and already on the feet of my little kids. It is a whole other story to detscribe the pandemonium of handing out the cleats. There were the expected issues of many kids being angry that they weren’t given cleats and envy that some were prettier than others, but in the end everyone felt better that it was something. I handed to cleats out to the poorest team in the league (Piedras Largas) and the leftovers were distributed between individual players identified with the most need. Each team also got a soccer ball and you can see from the pictures how much they appreciated it and truly needed it. Similar to my latrine project the soccer league has not been without its own set of headaches. I have to deal with the constant badgering of kids wanting to know the number of points each team has, the time they are playing on the weekend, and when more cleats are coming to town. Yet, like my latrine project, I love it. I love seeing the kids motivated by the league and that they are investing so much time and interest in it. Unlike the adult league these kids arrive to the field every Saturday on time, not only that I always get there an hour early and find out that I am bested by no less than 40 kids. Without the support of any adult the kids are able to raise the necessary C$30 ($1.50) to pay for the referee and bring ash to line the field. I am so proud of my kids and I know this is proof that sports really do make a difference in the life of kids and can teach as much as any classroom. The time the kids spend on the field and off has taught them to be leaders, given them patience, and to learn that as kids they can do anything they put their mind to. Thank you again to Ana Chambers for her contribution of all the cleats and balls for my soccer league. Thank you to all the friends and families that donated their cleats and balls to help my children and please know that it was very much appreciated. PS: If anyone has any extra sports supplies they would like to donate I am always looking for more. Please email me and we can try and coordinate a shipment.Jason.c.koza@gmail.com



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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.