Written by: Alison Costa
Sports have always been a part of my life, both playing and watching. I personally believe that involvement in sport is extremely beneficial for children and communities as a whole and that belief has been strengthened during my time here in Pearl Lagoon.
Sport is a huge part of life here in the Lagoon, so much so that it sometimes even comes before work. For example, the last Friday of every month is when TEP’CE takes place. Children have their version of a “P.A. Day” and teachers take part in capacity building and programming workshops. In Canada, a P.A. Day would generally never be postponed and it would definitely not be postponed for a sporting event. The TEP’CE that was supposed to happen at the end of August was postponed due to a parade coming to town. This was not just any parade though. The Caribbean Coast baseball team had won the Nicaraguan baseball league for the first time in 23 years and this was the parade of champions!
There was no question in anyone’s mind that this was a legitimate reason for TEP’CE to be postponed. Everyone from Pearl Lagoon and the surrounding communities either watched or took part in the parade. The local school marching bands marched in front and behind the truck carrying the baseball players, trucks overflowing with people followed the procession and young girls danced in front of a cancha overflowing with people. The entire community celebrated together all day and long into the night. It was definitely worth postponing TEP’CE for!
* As a side note, we did facilitate our TEP’CE workshop the following week for the preschool teachers of the Pearl Lagoon basin. We focused on setting appropriate objectives for their lesson plans and how to measure if these objectives were accomplished. We introduced some new teaching activities, songs and games from the Preschool Manual we have been developing and used these new activities to discuss what the objectives could be for various lessons. The workshop was a great success and we feel that now that the teachers are more comfortable with us, they also feel more comfortable participating in the workshops.
Now, back to the presence of sports in the Lagoon. The basketball league that Kelsie and I have been a part of since our second week here is nearing the end of the season. Our team has made it to the finals and we have our first game of the seven game final series starting this weekend. Our playoffs have been pretty tame so far in comparison to the boy’s playoffs series. The boy’s semi-finals were some of the most intense basketball I have seen here in Pearl Lagoon. The final game to determine who would go onto the next round resembled a Stanley Cup final game. There were police doing crowd control, the cheering was deafening and when the game ended, the team that won was as excited as if they had just won the overall championship.
Recently a group of high school girls were chosen to play in a basketball tournament in Managua. These girls won the tournament and will hopefully get the opportunity to travel to Colombia to compete. Everyone was so proud of the team and they even marched in the Independence Day parade. It was inspiring to see these confident young women march through town in their uniforms. Experiences like this help to increase the self-esteem of these girls and help them to believe that they can do anything they set their minds to.
If children grow up following in the footsteps of their favourite athlete, perhaps it will keep them away from a life of drugs and violence. It is evident how much the young people here in Pearl Lagoon look up to the older people on sports teams. Whether it’s a game of baseball taking place on the street, or kids running to shoot hoops during the time outs of basketball games, sport is everywhere.