Saturday, July 17, 2010

You think football season ended last weekend?

You are totally wrong, now the REAL games begun on Monday and today we have the climax!

Last Sunday was the official opening of Helsinki Cup 2010, a tournament that is arranged for the 35th time in Helsinki, Finland. It is said to be the 3rd biggest tournament in the world, but I'm not quite sure what measures are used. Definitely not the budget.

The team I have been cheering for started their tournament on Sunday with a friendly game against Tanzania Soccer Boys, a team collected from the best players of the schools in one area in Tanzania. Having these guys playing in the tournament is a story of its own...

This is one of the sponsored teams that is brought here with an initiative to improve education level in Tanzania.

Football, education, what's the point...?
Well, it is not like in some parts of the world where Mamas and Papa drive their kids to the scool after a morning shower, watching a bit of tv or playing X-Box, and after a healthy donutpeanutbutterjellypankacewhateveryoufindfromthefridge-breakfast.

Kids put on their colorful customized Crocs and their  Nike Vapor football shoes for the lunch break games on a grass field - or if you happen to live in a country with strange weather like Finland or Belgium - on artificial grass.

All the kids have a selection of footballs to choose from, someone even the official World Cup ball. And off they go, play a bit and then go back to the air conditioned classrooms until they have the physical education class in the air conditioned indoor gym - since it is either too hot or raining outside.

They put on their shiny Koby-shoes and dream about the LA Lakers - Cleveland Cav's game they went to see during last holiday break. Or since this is a football story LA Galaxy game with David The Man Beckham playing side by side with Landon Donovan...

These Tanzania boys have a bit different background and circumstances in life...
Many of the parents are farmers or run small "business" locally - and many of these kids really live in mud huts. When coming to Finland, many of them are for first time playing with proper football shoes and a new ball!

When we are talking about 11 years old kids, I bet you don't often see referee fixing the shoe laces of a goalie - and another guy sent to the coach for the same reason.  By the way, if your 7+ child does not know how to do it, please stop treating him/her as a baby and teach it, I claim it's all about the effort to teach how to do it. And yes, they are able to make their own bed too ;o)

Actually the referee of the Tanzania game (who seemed to be an advanced level one) was also fully capable to speak fluent Swahili and was hosting the team. No wonder, he is working for the organization that brought the team to Finland...

The guys had a fantastic team spirit - and the best smiles came after the Tanzania team scored goals (and they did it quite many times) - they really had thought well their cheerings and routines after the goal. In the tournament they hammered the average teams and continued from their qualification round, but didn't make it to the finals today.

The friendly was a great experience for both teams - and the trip to the tournament in total especially to the Tanzanian children who have a fantastic opportunity to share this experience back home and encourage other children to learn more about the world!!!

And following the "Say No to Racism!" theme, I think this picture is a good promoter the the theme :o)

PS 4 out of the 5 brave who expressed their opinion about the new lay-out said it's better than the old one - perhaps to please me and keep me writing ;o) Most likely I will change some of it some day again, let's see...

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