Last Saturday’s school football tournament was without a doubt the biggest day of my career as a part-time football assistant coach - well, the biggest day so far. We had seen some promising signs during the training sessions. However, to say that Mark and I struggled to successfully teach the Indian school children how to pass and move would have been a huge understatement. We therefore approached the momentous occasion with the hope that we’d get a couple of goals and refrain from getting into too many fights.
Our slim chances almost disappeared before a ball was kicked when some of the children didn’t show up, but thankfully they came just in time for the start of the tournament. It was a knockout competition so the first game was crucial. Although there were lots of chances, the match finished 0-0 and went straight to penalties. It seemed that our bad English luck at penalties wore off on the team, as we unfortunately lost 2-1. The boys were pretty sad as they had expected to be playing all day, so Mark and I decided to take them to a park near the school to play football until we were all exhausted!
|The immense pressure was too much for Darpan, who dragged his shot wide.|
|Thankfully, the boys enjoyed the rest of the day!|
Last week, a team from Yahoo! turned up at the ashram to donate computers and play games with the children. This increased the number of working computers in the computer room from one to seven! As a result, Mark and I spent the week teaching Word, Excel and Powerpoint to different classes. Although it wasn’t surprising, it was still strange to see children struggling to use the mouse or keyboard at first. However, I felt that this was by far the most productive week at the school as the children were really quick to learn new ICT skills.
|Teaching 14 year olds to edit font on Word|
On Monday I went to visit one of the after school tuition classes with the older school children. When I got back, Mark told me that there had been a lot of corporal punishment administered at the ashram, with boys having open wounds where they had been beaten. He also informed me in the evening that a large group of boys were forced to stand in a squatting position and that two of the children at the front were crying from the pain. Later on, we were ‘reassured’ that all of this had happened because one of the children had stolen a set of keys and had locked the computer room without permission. Mark instantly informed the organisation that sent us and told them to stop sending interns until something changes.
On Wednesday, a rich businessman arranged for all the boys to go to the cinema and eat at a banquet hall. The film – a Bollywood blockbuster called Brothers – focused on the lives of two brothers who took part in brutal street fighting competitions. On top of the glorification of violence and power, the movie also included a song where a female singer was being danced around by a crowd of men throwing money at her and practically drooling over her. I found it ridiculous that so many young boys who didn’t know any better were watching such a film, so I walked out less than half of the way through. At least the food afterwards was pretty good.
|The boys were literally screaming with excitement on the bus!|
|Shiva agreed to drink the revolting green drink for the sake of a photo!|
As we entered the last full week at the school, we were given many gifts by the teachers (usually in the form of food). At one point we were given four pizzas, as well as various Indian dishes, all before 10am! The manager of the ashram gave us a cotton shirt each as well as some Yahoo! merchandise. On Thursday, a friend from church dropped by to say goodbye and gave us some Indian pointy hats. The next day, school children tied several pink and blue bracelets around our wrists. Mark was given a really nice send-off on Friday, with loads of group photos and thank-you messages. As for me, I'll be back home on Wednesday!
|The menacing threats to "take take" and "eat eat" platefuls of food was getting too much for Mark.|
|Mark with 7th Standard - one of the nicest classes to teach|
|Mark with some of the boys from 8th, 9th and 10th Standard|