Sunday, April 05, 2009

New heights

Blue Dragon's soccer team started in early 2003, long before "Blue Dragon" was even a legal entity. At the time, some of my friends and I were teaching English, maths and art to street kids and the rooms we were using just wouldn't hold any more students. So someone came up with the idea of taking it to the soccer field.

Our very first game was not spectacular: just 3 kids turned up. We played on a dirt field, in bare feet, and had a great time.

Since then, we've played 600 games. Yes, 600! - at least 2 games each week, and in the last 6 years there have only ever been a few weeks that we didn't play at all.

The original idea of the soccer was to offer some recreation to street kids, who don't have many safe or legal avenues to have fun. That's still one of our goals, but today the soccer serves as an outreach to street kids and young people around Hanoi's Phuc Tan area - one of the most socially disadvantaged areas of the city. Some weeks we have to sweep aside the discarded syringes before the kids can play; the area around the field is something of a hot spot for heroin users, some of whom come and join in the games.

From our first Sunday game with 3 kids, we've grown quite a bit. For a long time our record number of players was 64, but last week 75 kids turned up and today the number was around 65. We still play on a dirt field, but these days the kids wear shoes thanks to sponsorship we've had from a couple of organisations, including Catholic Relief Services and Asia Pacific Sports Management in Singapore.

Asking the Blue Dragon staff to turn up at a football field at 7.30am every Sunday hasn't been as much of a problem as you might expect. There's a trio who organise and run the games - Tho, Tung, and Diep - and usually a couple of volunteers turn up to help too. Tho and Diep have even received some training by the British Council's Premier League coaching program, so now the games start with a fun warm up and basic training.

As simple as it all is, the soccer games are fantastic: they let street kids come and meet us on familiar turf, and give working kids an hour of no-strings-attached fun. And if only it was held at a more reasonable hour, I might even get down there more often myself!


1 comment:

PIC said...

vietnam is very good in football