Uganda: Day 6 of Soccer Coach Training

This morning is the end. The coaches arrived early for breakfast, and we joined them about 9:30 a.m. for the closing ceremony. And it was indeed a proper ceremony, with comments from many distinguished guests from FUFA, FIFA, and USAid. We received lovely departing gifts from our teams of coaches, who presented each of us with bark cloth gifts that are unique to the country. FUFA presented us with team jerseys for the Uganda Cranes national team, and Coach Stone presented us with soccer balls signed by all participants. We in turn presented those that had so graciously sponsored and supported us all with Jabulani (World Cup) balls. At the end of the ceremony the participants received their remaining soccer gear from us; throughout the course of the week they had received a coaching manual, pen, string bag, ball, cones, clipboards & pens, and whistles, so that they had the basic supplies that every soccer coach needs. We shared our final lunch together, and then the coach participants and our delegation were all so very kindly hosted by FUFA to attend a soccer match in the afternoon featuring the national men's team Uganda Cranes playing host to visiting Kenya in Nelson Mandela stadium. It was quite awe inspiring, and we felt a bit like rock stars when we were ushered into the stadium to sit in the section adjacent to where our coach participants were seated and who cheered and fist bumped us upon our arrival. At half time we had the opportunity to meet with FUFA leadership and share a soft drink in their lounge. The host Cranes won the match 1-0. It was an event none of us shall ever forget, and the best part was being able to share it with the participants whose company we had grown to love over the week. The goodbyes were hard, but happy. Diane P1015334 Trainers Crane Jerseys.jpg

Uganda: Day 5 of Soccer Coach Training

Women coaching soccer in Uganda was at the forefront for me today. Jens opened our session in the morning by talking about just this. Among the female coaches we have every level from the national team coach to novice, entry level coaches to those who are experienced in coaching other sports like volleyball and netball but are newly being asked to also coach soccer and thus are here to prepare themselves for this. We have over 50 women among our 185 coaches, an unprecedented number in this country from what I am told. Over lunch we met with the head of women's soccer in Uganda and she told us this. She is more than delighted at the representation and engagement of the female coaches in our program. Turns out she has friends and relatives in Minneapolis and will be visiting them next fall, so I invited her to come to the University during her stay and I look forward to that. The majority of the male and female coaches in our coach training have told me that they coach both girls and boys. It is apparent that soccer is slowly becoming more acceptable and accessible for girls and women in this country. From the beginning of this week to the end of this week, one of the things that I have noticed is that more men and women are walking together, talking together, kicking the ball together during down times, and in general just treating each other like friends, teammates, and colleagues. It is really exciting to see this development. Having excellent female coaches among our group, like Carrie, Lisa, and Stacy, has really helped earn the respect of men and women alike for what women can do in the soccer world. Diane P1015225 Women Coaches.jpg

Uganda: Day 4 of Soccer Coach Training

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Sports injuries were on my mind a lot today. My job here is to talk about basic things a youth soccer coach should know about the prevention and care of sports injuries. Thank heavens I had several of my graduate students help me prepare the material for these presentations when the Ugandan coaches visited us in Minnesota in March (shout out to Tara Robertson, Monique Foster, Ayanna Franklin, and Jim Winges-THANKS!). I am not an athletic trainer or a medical doctor or any such thing. I'm a coach, who knows just the basics. But they have so little access to any sort of medical care here that ever since Jens introduced me as "Dr." Bjornstal who would be talking about sports medicine I find myself inundated with questions about all types of sports injures, past and present. I have heard more stories than I can count from our coaches about how their own playing careers were cut short by injuries, knees and ankles being common sites among soccer players. Surgical repair is not really possible because it is not available, and far too expensive even if it were. So they truly have career ending injuries from events that would be blips on the radar screen for Americans. But thankfully many coaches have shared with me that they used these negative events in their lives as opportunities to enter the coaching profession, by coaching in youth soccer academies and schools and neighborhoods. But that doesn't mean that they don't also tell me about the sadness that they felt because they could no longer play soccer. They do. DianeP1014973 compressed for web.jpg

Uganda: Day 3 of Soccer Coach Training

Today a picture was worth a thousand words. We took photos of every team and every coach attending the program. We will be posting their photos and names on a website so that coaches can continue to connect with those they've met from across the country to arrange tournaments and "friendlies" for their teams. I learned a bit of Ugandan sign language in the process, and Lisa did an amazing job of organizing the teams for photos and recording names. With her wonderful sense of humor and love for the Ugandan people evident, she managed to get most of the coaches to smile for their photos--and let me just say that this is no small task. Stacy engaged the coaches with her discussion of nutrition and hydration, Mike had fun coaching some drills on the field, and Ian and Carrie continued their lively E-license on-field training sessions. It is a pleasure to watch all of these talented professionals volunteering their time to share their love and knowledge of the game of soccer--and of kids--with the Ugandan participants. Our gracious and welcoming Ugandan hosts have supported us in every possible way. DianeP1014166 compressed team photo day 3.jpg

Uganda: Day 2 of Soccer Coach Training

It rained today, the African rain that I've heard of, but not heard. It came during lunch, as we were under the open air metal canopy covering the concrete eating area. It came in torrents, and in gentle patters, with a refreshing breeze after the hot morning. Hot to me at least, but perhaps a cool day by Ugandan standards. Little huddles of coaches and trainers gathered about talking about soccer and life. Ian Barker and Carrie Barker spent both the morning and afternoon on the soccer fields for E-license training, with half of the 185 coaches in the morning representing four numbers/colors/teams, and the other half in the afternoon. Jens, Lisa, Mike and Diane were in 4 X 40 minutes sessions both morning and afternoon giving talks to each of the 8 different teams of coaches, covering topics like tournament organization, sport psychology and sports medicine. We had distinguished guests from the FUFA organization speak to our whole assembly, welcoming us and the coaches on behalf of their organization and country, and doing us the honor of sitting in on our training sessions. As our distinguished guests pointed out, among our numbers we have young and old, men and women, hearing and deaf, Christian and Muslim, Americans and Ugandans. It is astonishing, humbling, and exciting. We look forward to another amazing day tomorrow. Diane P1014015 copy compressed.jpg

Uganda: Day 1 of Soccer Coach Training

Colors, a sea of colors. We met the 180 coaches from across Uganda today who have gathered with us at a Kampala, Uganda school for 5.5 days of soccer coach education training. Men and women, all wearing newly issued and brightly colored shirts representing their eight teams. Teams comprised of new acquaintances from across the country, blending men and women, rookie and experienced coaches, and four different regions of the country. The colors of the shirts--and of the country--are stunning. We enjoyed a lunch break together where we shared the wonderful flavors of the local foods with our new coach colleagues, and enjoyed learning of their travels to arrive at our training sessions. After a nice introductory program led by Jens Omli and leaders of FUFA (Federation of Uganda Football Association), Ian Barker and Mike Guiliano kicked off our programming with some excellent sessions on the USSF E-license coach training and on communication. We are learning as much as we hope they learn from us; our experiences here will make us better teachers and coaches ourselves. All for now. DianeP1013910 edited copy compressed.jpg

Recent Comments

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