Thursday, February 4, 2016

Soccer in Paradise

Today was the final day of the primary school regional soccer—or football as it is known here—tournament. Last Thursday as well as today, we only had a half day of academics, because our school was chosen as the host site for six schools to gather to see who would be advancing to the next round of the playoffs in the capital city of Roseau in March.

After losing the first game (0-5) and winning our second game (4-2) last week, our team had to play three games today. They lost the first game (0-5) today, but won the second game (2-0). Whether they advanced depended on the outcome of the last game this afternoon. Fortunately, they won (4-2) and will continue to practice after school until the next round in March.

Football is a popular sport here, and nearly every evening there is a crowd of boys (and young men) playing on our beautiful field near the ocean. It really is an incredible setting, with palm trees lazily swaying in the sea breeze as the Atlantic crashes to shore on the other side of the road. I'm not surprised that the Ministry of Sports (yes, it is an official bureacracy in the Dominican government) chose our scenic location to host the tournament.

Sports officials came to our field before last Thursday, to cut the grass, lay out the boundaries, and paint the white lines. They also brought their own official goals to use. There was an elaborate opening ceremonies, featuring comments from our village council president, as well as recognition of the officials attending from the National Bank of Dominica, the primary sponsor for this tournament. Here is a picture of all six teams lined up during those opening ceremonies—our team is nearest to the camera in the red and yellow jerseys (notice the ocean breaking against the rocks in the distance—that is the tidal pool area that I described in my previous blog story).

Our boys are relatively small (some of them very small), and our tiny school has no sixth graders (indeed, we are playing with a couple of second graders). They worked hard to get their victories in this tournament and extend their season. I'm not sure how well they will do at the next level, but it is nice that they made it this far. However, on the bright side, the fact that we have no sixth graders means that we will return our whole team intact for next year's competition.

Below is a sampling of some of the pictures I snapped during the tournament. If you want to see more, I put together an album that you can peruse at this link. I hope these pictures convey the natural beauty of my village, with our school and its playing field located so close to the beachfront. I am truly blessed to have been assigned here!

Note the size difference in the photo above between our second grader
with the ball and the defender in the red shirt behind him.
One of our best players is one of our smallest
(although he is a fourth grader)--note the size difference above.
On the horizon in both the picture above and the two pictures below, if you look closely you can make out the nearby island called Marie-Galante, which is part of Guadeloupe. The picture directly below is from a corner kick (see the ball floating above the horizon), while the one above shows one of our goals today being scored.
Notice the political billboard for the current Prime Minister in the background.
The photo above shows another of our goals today.

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