Adam is probably about to discover a new Messi in Buenos Aires! While he is coaching young football talents he has not only a lot of fun, but also inspires their team spirit. The young kids obviously enjoy the football lessons with a volunteer from UK, where football has orginally been invented.
I recently returned home from 2 weeks volunteering in Villa Rodrigo Bueno, a small neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. The main aim of the programme was to use organised workshops in football, boxing and English to encourage the local kids to get involved with productive activities and become active members of their community. All in all it was a fantastic experience, and I was really well looked after by the people there.
Flor and Bautista, a husband and wife team who ran the community centre, made sure I was safe, comfortable and well fed whenever I visited them and Andrea, who was the link between Iko Poran and the neighbourhood, was in constant contact with me throughout. Taking part in the workshops with the kids was a lot of fun, and I was also invited to take part in other activities with the adults too- a midweek football tournament being a particular highlight.
I’d definitely recommend learning some Spanish before you go as nobody in the neighbourhood speaks English, so communication could be a bit tricky at times. Nevertheless, everyone I met was really hospitable and I was made to feel very welcome. Facilities in the neighbourhood are very basic and the activities are subject to weather and other factors, so be open-minded and prepared for your schedule to change at short notice.
The programme title suggests that you will be coaching sports, but in reality you are mostly just joining in with the workshops, and in some cases being coached yourself! In many ways this was probably for the best as the standard of football in the neighbourhood is ridiculously high, so I’m not sure if I could have taught them anything anyway! There are still lots of ways to make yourself useful though: helping the kids with their homework in the English workshop, unloading food deliveries, and helping to distribute food to the local residents to give a few examples. As Andrea kept telling me, the more you put yourself out there, the more everyone gets out of it. – Adam Leese, United Kingdom, 26 years