Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate in a soccer program for 20 children who live under a bridge. My experience with soccer has been that it is the “everyman” game–all you need is a ball and some space and you can play. That is not really the case here in Jakarta. Mostly, people here play “footsal” or indoor soccer. In order to play indoor soccer you have to not only have the money to rent a court, but you have to have the right equipment. The reason people play indoor soccer is not only because it is very hot outside, but also because there isn’t a lot of free space outside for traditional soccer.
When I first signed up to volunteer I didn’t realize what a big deal this was for the kids. The kids we played with don’t own a soccer ball–they kick around a round piece of plastic and play in a small alley. The ally has to be too small for a car to pass through, though–or there will be cars passing through and they will get run over. Needless to say, they were thrilled to get to play with a real ball on a real court. We played on a sand court so shoes weren’t an issue and the kids had a blast. The kids were divided up into two groups and taught different types of passing. To me it seemed pretty basic–but the kids absolutely loved it and needed to learn the skills. After the two 30-minute passing sessions they got to play 5 on 5 tournament style. I finally know how to cheer for soccer teams in Indonesian–so that’s an added side benefit!
I know I keep saying it, but I was just overwhelmed with how happy the kids looked. I talked to the head coach after and he said that the reason this is so special to the kids is because they literally have nothing to do. That’s why they get married around 14. It’s something to do. The goal of the program is not only to teach them soccer skills, but it is for them to learn about themselves and learn that there is more to life…and I am so excited to get to be a part of it.