I spent five weeks working for a Colombian volunteer program as a football coach and volunteer after applying through Volunteer Work Latin America (VLA). I spoke only a few words of Spanish beforehand, but with the help of Ed, the director, and his team I was still able to make a difference to some amazing children right from the start, whilst picking up my Spanish to conversational level along the way.

The story of an Aussie coaching Columbian kids how to score goals, on the field and in their daily lives!

Ed also runs a tour company and knows all the best things to do in Medellin. He can also help you with trips to the many other incredible destinations Colombia has to offer. Before settling in Medellin, I spent two weeks traveling Colombia’s Caribbean coastline filling my time lying about on white sandy beaches, taking mud baths and searching for lost cities. I could relax and have a great time, safe in the knowledge that VLA had already found me some long term, cheap accommodation in ‘el centro’ of Medellin with three meals a day provided! If you wish, VLA will also help you arrange Spanish lessons at the local University; something I would strongly recommend doing if your Spanish is only basic.

The program works closely with other foundations to give children a more structured, healthier, happier lifestyle, which focuses around school and learning.  The mission, more specifically, is to teach children invaluable life skills and structure through sport and activities, which is one I strongly believe in. With the aid of Spanish-speaking coach, Wilmar, I took the project’s football team, made up of 12-16 year olds, for two training sessions a week and a game at the weekend. For these children, football was the highlight of their week and it was such a great pleasure to coach them. Five weeks really wasn’t enough. 

The story of an Aussie coaching Columbian kids how to score goals, on the field and in their daily lives!

When I wasn’t coaching, I spent my afternoons at one of the other foundations helping out with other projects that Ed runs. On a nice day the other volunteers and I would take the children to the park and the library. On rainy days, we’d help with indoor activities, such as dance and art classes, help with homework or play the kind of games that children like to play; my favourite being “let’s gel Michael’s hair and make it look silly”. It’s hard not to get attached to these wonderful, smiling children who all have been through some sort of turmoil in their lives and who all have a lot of love and energy to give.

I also got pretty attached to the foundations themselves and the work they do day-in, day-out. As I already mentioned, 5 weeks just wasn’t enough for me and I am now helping them with, amongst other, funding from my home in Sydney. My GOAL is to make annual trips to Medellin to continue what I’ve started!

Please read the interview with the program director Ed. (here)
Additional info about the program can be found on our website
If you like to become involved with this amazing project as well, do not hesitate to contact us.

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