Article By Sam Sherman
I had the privilege to spend five months in Cape Town, South Africa. While I was there I did volunteer work at a school, Kannemeyer Primary, with kids from Kindergarten to grade 7. I was one of their Physical Training (PT) coaches, and I ran the gym class. We played lots of games every week, soccer being the one we played most. The kids in South Africa love soccer.
Before I left for South Africa, Lacrosse Outreach Foundation donated mini sticks to me so that I could take them on my trip. As a One World Lacrosse volunteer, I really wanted to introduce lacrosse to the kids during my time in South Africa. It worked perfectly being a PT coach at a school. Part way into my time there, I took the sticks into Kannemeyer. Most of the kids had never heard of lacrosse at all. I gave a brief description of how the game is played, then I demonstrated how to catch, throw, and scoop a ground ball. The kids grabbed a stick and a partner and gave it a try. I walked around to help them out and play a little with them.
Some of the kids picked it up very quickly and were catching and throwing by the end of the 30 minute PT class. Other kids were getting frustrated because they couldn’t get it. With a little help, most of them could got the hang of it. The older grades went right into throwing the ball the entire length of the field, with not much accuracy, and their partner ran around trying to catch it. We spent a lot of time searching for the green balls in the green grass, but didn’t lose too many of them. We continued to play lacrosse for a couple weeks when the kids wanted to. Kevin Gallagher of One World Lacrosse gave me some Adrenaline Lacrosse hats and socks before I left. So we played sharks and minnows and the winner got to pick a pair of socks or a hat as their prize. The kids loved sharks and minnows and we continued to play that for weeks.
Introducing lacrosse to a community that had never seen it before was very interesting. Soccer and rugby are the dominant sports in South Africa, so some kids had no interest in learning lacrosse, because why would they ever play anything but soccer? Other kids were very happy to learn lacrosse; they were tired of everything being about soccer, and this new sport was gladly welcomed. Many of the older girls in South Africa chose do not participate in as many sports as girls in the states because in through their cultural lens, sports are reserved for boys.
Since I could explain that this is the sport I play at home, it encouraged more girls to want to play. A couple girls loved it so much that they continued to play every week while the rest of their class played a different game. I even let them take two sticks home so they could keep practicing. In the end, I think learning a new sport had a positive impact on the kids at Kannemeyer.
For me, introducing lacrosse to new kids is always fun. It’s satisfying to see when they catch, throw, and scoop successfully. Lacrosse is one of my passions, and I love sharing it with others, hoping they love it too.
One World Lacrosse is currently planning to bring a permanent lacrosse and clean water project back to India in 2013. Past/present high school, college, and professional players are urged to check out www.oneworldlacrosse.org, www.facebook.com/oneworldlax, or email [email protected] for more information regarding volunteer and internship opportunities.