Tag Archives: children

Soccer Madness

A view of the soccer stadium on game day.

(From an dateless journal entry while in Lira)

It is hard to believe the United States does not celebrate the sport of soccer in the same way in which many other countries of the world do. It is also a shame. Even though I have minimal soccer skills (ask my classmates who watched me desperately attempt and fail to score one goal against a bunch of children less than half my size), being able to recognize the rules and setup of a sport brought me closer to the children we were with.

Soccer is so much more to them than a sport. The first night we played, we did not even play the game with a soccer ball; we played with a plastic water bottle. They barely noticed because for them soccer is not about who wears the best jerseys, which brand of shoes works best, or the quality of their ball. Soccer is a time to celebrate in a friendly and competitive spirit as well as distract themselves from their daily struggles. Soccer relieves their stress, anxiety, and possibly even pain. I know watching this random white girl prance around like a baby gazelle chasing after a ball gave them a good laugh.

Although it was a slight jab to my dignity, I laughed with them; I played their game with them and I related to them in some way for that hour or two out on that field. It did not matter that we were from another country, older, and twice their size. They immediately made us their teammates and welcomed us onto their field, a place that felt almost sacred. (End of entry)

In an anthropology course, I read a book by Janet Lever called Soccer Madness which discusses soccer’s role in society in Brazil. However, as I watched the motorbikes packed with people in their bright yellow jerseys headed to watch the soccer match last week, I could not help but notice a similar role in the community in Uganda. Lever states that sporting spectacles such as soccer “belong to the world of the sacred rather than the profane; fans who say sport provides an escape from ‘real life’ in effect sustain this religious distinction …. Like the effect of a religious celebration, sport fosters a sense of identification with the others who shared the experience.”

Keep on keepin’ on,

Gabby

To those with nothing, soccer is everything.”- Celia W. Dugger

By grace we shall live

I’m going to go ahead and say that most people in the United States have the privilege of watching their children grow and mature successfully into adulthood. Likewise, most children in the United States have the opportunity to learn from and have a relationship with their parents. The bottom line is that life expectancy is significantly higher in the United States.

When I set out on this journey (and what a journey it has been), I had no idea what to expect and left with my mind open to learning things that never even crossed my mind. I definitely thought I would go back home with a profound sense of how incredibly lucky I am. I’m pretty sure it’s clear to everyone who visits the developing world for the first time how truly lucky they are. But what I didn’t expect, was to go home feeling angry.

Obviously there are things in life that I cannot change. But these people, they lose many of their children to war and disease. These people lose their children before even having the chance to get to know them, much less be proud of them. Even as I look around the city and in the villages an age gap is definitely visible. Hardly anyone is my age, and if there are, there are very few.

For these people, it’s not that they just lose a family member when a child dies – they lose everything because family is all they have.

It angers me to think that there are parents in the United States, who have the world at their fingertips compared to Ugandans, that consciously make the decision every single day to ignore their children and do absolutely nothing to help them succeed.

I’ve been told that losing a child is one of the worst things in the world. I can’t imagine how much worse it is for the billions of people in Uganda who lose their children when their children are literally all they have. So how does someone in the United States, someone who has everything, deny themselves one of the greatest gifts the world has to offer? How does someone reject a choice that half the people on this planet don’t even have?

 

Trying to capture video at Abia -- get swarmed by kids.