Sunday March 4th is a date that I will forever remember. It was the day when an armory in the district Mpila in Brazzaville exploded and several neighborhoods were leveled to the ground. Hundreds of people died, thousands were injured and the entire population was reminded of the terrible things that happened during the Civil War. I can reassure you that all children and leaders at Gothia School are OK, and things have gradually returned to normal. However, most of the people here carry this event in recent memory, and jump a little extra each time you hear a bang in traffic or during a lightning storm.
The activities in Brazzaville has, as I said slowly gone back to normal, and we have had internal matches between our various schools now at the end of March. The games have been good and it’s been great to see so many Gothia-children play. The children really live up to the matches when they are allowed to show their skills they have learned in training. It is wonderful to see how their eyes lit and smiles go from ear to ear as they run onto the pitch.
In March, volunteers along with those responsible for the Gothia project visited the other football school located in the DRC. The Football school located in Kimpese was officially opened in 2010 and is still in the initial phase compared to Brazzaville has been running for almost 10 years. The trip went by boat across the river, through the capital Kinshasa and also in the car to Kimpese, which is about 200 km from the capital. Kimpese is located in a rural area with incredible natural surroundings and a relaxed atmosphere.
Two weeks were spent in Kimpese and we did a lot during that time. We’ve had numerous leadership seminars from all about how a goalie should react, how a leader should be, how different game systems work to how a workout is planned and run. This is interspersed with a lot of practice on the field with both children and leaders and it feels like to visit spurred everyone to keep working with both those sports as social activities.
I am very pleased with the visit to Kimpese and I feel very proud of all the fine leaders and children that are there. Sure, we’ve had many theoretical and practical sessions with them, but that’s not what I will mainly carry with me in memory. What made the most impression on me were the meetings with the people there, children and grown ups.
Massa, Massamba, Jose, Tristan, Maise, Merlene, yes the list goes on. Massa is 14 and she is one of the most talented girls in Kimpese. She seldom misses a workout, even though she really has a tough life unlike any other 14-year-olds life as I know. Both her mother and father are dead and she lives with her seven siblings, and I do not hide the fact that the Gothia means a lot to her.
Existence of Gothia is like a free zone for her as she ”can be herself” without feeling any pressure. She may for a moment let go of her adult role that she has at home and just be a child and play football and meet friends that she loves. It feels real good when I think about that little me may be able to contribute to a better life for Congolese children. And it is precisely such meetings that make me realize that all the work for the project is worth it, really every second!
Volunteers in Congo/Frida