My original curriculum for ELI-Africa included a strong segment of teaching basketball. My competence in basketball-related areas is how I came to work for ELI-Africa and spend this summer Mauritius. Somewhere along the way, between attempting to secure gym access and trying to work out logistics, the basketball portion didn’t work out exactly how I planned. Albeit unfortunate, I have found it even more gratifying working in other areas of athletics with the students. They never cease to impress me, and more importantly I think they impress themselves.
- When playing “foot” (soccer), I habitually find myself being the clumsiest on the field. The eye-foot coordination and the fluidity in which they move on the pitch is exceptional.
- We had a wall sitting competition (sitting against a wall with your legs at 90 degrees), which is not an easy exercise. On their first ever try most of the kids did better than 99% of people. The winner of the competition, Kevin, held a wall sit for 10 minutes. 10 MINUTES. Wait let me reiterate the gravity of what I just said. 10 MINUTES. THAT IS AN ABNORMALLY LONG TIME FOR ANY ATHLETE.
- We had a broad jump competition (measuring how far one can outwardly jump), with each kid having two chances to jump. The first try was a bit awkward for most, but on the second nearly every student improved at least 2-4 inches.
These are only a few of the great feats I have witnessed the past couple of weeks. They are such natural athletes and in some cases don’t even notice it. It’s exciting to work with them every day, to challenge them in a way they might not have been challenged before, and help them realize their potential.
Although unable to work on basketball, working with them in varying sports such as volleyball, soccer, and Frisbee has only revealed how versatile their talents are. I merely have to give them the equipment or brief instruction, and they excel in each facet. To an extent I’m glad basketball didn’t work out. It has taught me always to be flexible in teaching and in life, because if one is too rigid they might miss other great opportunities.
Here at ELI-Africa we are constantly striving for improvement. We make mistakes, but we try and keep open minds and learn from past missteps. Like Bruce Lee said “..you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes a teapot.” One must able to adapt to any situation at any time in order to perform at their best…