Sporting Leadership transcends international boundaries, as Year 9 pupil Josh discovered this summer when he undertook a week-long football coaching camp with children in Mongolia.
Josh, who honed his coaching prowess through the Everton FC Coach Education Programme at Harrow Hong Kong, shared his expertise with young orphaned and abused children at a summer camp during the first week of June.
While they may not have shared a common language, Josh and the children developed a connection and understanding through body language, football jerseys and a shared passion for the game.
“The foreign volunteers decided to create a themed week of activities, but there was also a lot of time to kill, so in this time, we basically decided let the kids have a break or do some fun activities with us,” Josh explained.
“I decided to use the skills I have learnt over the last year to create some fun activities to play with the kids. Unfortunately when we arrived, it turned out that none of the local kids knew a single word of English other than ‘hello’. There was also a lack of translators so communication was nigh impossible.” It was a case of solving problems creatively.
The children’s faces, however, lit up at the sight of a football jersey, and through body language and hand gestures, communication became easier. Josh was regularly challenged to a game, or to races up and down the sloping hill. The terrain may have provided a difficult football pitch, but Josh believed it helped refine his own skills as well as the children’s with accurate passing and ball control proving essential.
Towards the end of the week, they were able to play on a proper pitch and the traditional ‘kids versus volunteers’ match saw the volunteers serially outpaced by their young opponents. After what Josh describes as ‘two hours of intense sprinting’, the volunteers succumbed and successfully continued their losing streak of 4+ years.
“In the end, it was a huge learning experience for me,” Josh concluded. “Not only did the week with the kids improve my football skills, it also taught me a very important lesson.
“Even if we don’t understand each other’s language, connection and understanding can still be achieved, through the shared love for thing like sports and music.”
Director of Sport Mr Thomson said: “It is fantastic to see Josh use his experience from the Everton FC Coach Education programme at the School and take everything his has learned into an Mongolian Community”