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Talk About a Melting Pot

By: Spirit of Soccer Posted: July-05-2010 in
Spirit of Soccer

Teams trickled in all day on Monday from every corner of the planet – 32 teams representing 50 countries and nearly as many languages. Each team works with disadvantaged youth using soccer for social development. These organizations tackle a host of pressing issues in societies around the world, including HIV/AIDS, gang violence, teenage pregnancy, poverty, conflict resolutiong, hunger, the plight of refugees and homelessness among others.

They came in all shapes, sizes and colors. Africa, for obvious reasons, is heavily represented at the Festival with teams from South Africa, Zambia, Lesotho, Uganda, Kenya, Senegal, Mali and Nigeria. South America has the next strongest contingency with Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Columbia in attendance.

Arguably the most interesting delegation is the team representing Palestine and Israel – the Peres Center for Peace. This group uses sport to bring Palestinian and Israeli kids together while promoting peace and tolerance in both countries. What amazing and challenging work they are doing!

As each group arrived at the Village, typically kitted out in team warm-ups, they were assessed by the teams already in attendance. The Cambodian team gazed out the window of the game room with a bird’s eye view and instantly commented on the size of each arriving team. They soon learned that Africans, South Americans, Europeans and Americans are big, or tom tom, as they say in Khmer. Just as the team was beginning to panic, the Indian delegation arrived and they are possibly even smaller than the Cambodians. Thank you Asia and the rice diet!

night. Teams eat together, after lining up, in a dining hall. All of the teams had arrived and it was complete mayhem. Excited chatter in countless languages was uttered around the campus and everyone was checking out everyone else. While teams were a bit shy, they were slowly warming up to each other and meeting over the game room activities. The African teams were the most fun, as most of them chanted, sang and entertained the other groups.
The Team Village had reached a fever pitch by dinner on Monday

The Cambodian team was in awe of the other groups and grew increasingly more timid as more teams arrived. They finally fully realized Khmer, the Cambodian language, is not universal nor is it an important language in the world like English, French or Spanish. After sitting through the opening ceremony, completed wholly in English, the Cambodian team seemed a bit dejected and confused. We quickly came up with a plan to help them interact with other teams. We instituted a contest in which they have to learn hello in as many different languages as possible with a prize to the person who learns the most. Instantly, the team set off on the new mission and with difficulty, they began learning hello in a dozen languages. Barriers were being broken down one hello at a time.

Source: Spirit of Soccer

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