Hi Everyone! Below is a post I just put together for Maggie's website a few days ago! Hope all is well.
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is John Christopher and I’m the current Extra-Curricular Fellow at Kopila Valley! Over the past 6 months, I’ve been working with several of the other volunteers in an attempt to provide access to safe and supportive extracurricular activities to Kopila Valley Students.
As you might guess 1 person supervising 300 kids became an impossible task, so two other amazing fellows (Nena & Kelly) have taken on the huge task coaching the 32 girls on the volleyball team. I have been inspired by their progress with the girls, and they will be writing about their experience with volleyball in the near future.
In addition to the girls, the boys have also made huge strides and I will use this space to focus on our progress with the boys’ soccer program. Like the girls, the boys have also been an inspiration and a joy to watch and coach. When I first arrived here the affinity, and love for soccer at Kopila Valley (and Nepal) was palpable. I would walk on to the field every day and see the boys out there playing in the school yard. That said, while the passion for the sport was undeniable, the organization and structure was suspect at best. After school sports was a bit of a free for all, with no real rhyme or reason. After conferring with Nena & Kelly, we decided to set up seasons for the boys and girls sports. On January first, we announced a new system where the boy’s would play soccer for three months, while the girls played volleyball. Practices are now held six days a week, for an hour and a half a day after school. In addition to providing some much needed structure, it also helps out the girls tremendously by ensuring they have time on the field, and will not be ousted by the boys.
At the end of each “season”, our goal has been to set up games between our school and other local schools. On Saturday, February 16th, we had our first match against Bulbule Academy! The process of organizing games can be described as glacial. In Nepal, schools do not take the decision to participate lightly, for fear of the shame that would accompany a loss. As a result of that mentality, it took some time and energy in order to set up our first game…but it finally happened! Our boys came to school bright and early, and the field was marked and ready to go. Due to resource constraints, we don’t have uniforms quite yet, however, we purchased matching socks for all the boys, and they all wore their Kopila Valley polo shirts. After our warm-up, the opponent showed up equipped in their orange and yellow uniforms. The initial intimidation was easy to read on our boy’s faces, however, I did my best to settle their nerves before the game. I think this anxiety took center stage in the first half, and Bulbule got out to an early 1-0 lead. Trailing at the half, myself and Ian (assistant coach), made some adjustments…and the boys came out on FIRE in the second half. Despite a damp overcast day, we had lots of supports and the energy level was through the roof. Not until we scored 4 unanswered goals was Bulbule able to get back on the board. In addition to winning the match 4-2, we were also able to incorporate all 22 boys into the lineup to reward all of their hard work. Needless to say it was a wonderful day for our boy’s, teachers, volunteers, and fans and I can’t wait for our next game against SOS School on Saturday.
Thank you everyone for your support. Your positive energy is definitely appreciated, and I feel truly blessed to be over here with Maggie, Top, the Volunteers/Staff, and of course all of the kids! I’ll be sure to have Maggie update everyone on future games!