Freekicks International - Bogotá and Medellín, Colombia 2016 - (Photos Below)
It started with a dream to have Freekicks in South America, after 6 months of planning we left on June 29th to Colombia. On this mission we had Freekicks Impact Coaches Darren Potts and Founder Adam Aziz, also needing a translator and camera guy we were blessed to have a local named Juan Sebastian Laverde join us on this trip. It took us on an incredible journey to a country where we couldn't even speak the language but nothing was going to hold us back from inspiring a nation. Once touching down on the ground with all our excitement and nerves, we put our best game-face on with 6 huge bags of luggage stuffed with soccer gear, we managed to squeeze through customs, only sweating a little ; ). We took the first few days to acclimatize to the high altitude of Bogotá (8675 feet) and got our bearings of the city. Our first program was at Bienestar Familiar in the capital, we put on a 5-day camp for the kids at the orphanage. The first day was with all the kids, both boys and girls, with 2 sessions morning and afternoon. For the next four days we only coached the older boys, we wanted to give more time with these boys because we felt they needed more attention. These boys had been through a lot of struggles throughout life, for example they were coming to the end of their time at the organization and they hadn't been adopted. Imagine what that must feel like that no one gave you a family or home, so we wanted to share our hearts and let them know we loved them. At the end of the camp every young man was moved and inspired, we really invested a lot of time into their mindset and creating a positive outlook on life. It was a massive success and we all grew that week!
After our time came to an end in Bogotá, we journeyed up to Medellín where we spent 12-days in the comunas and surrounding areas. On our first week we teamed-up with Fútbol para el Futuro, they run all of their programs in at-risk and underfunded communities. They had us take over and coach all of their programs, they were very excited to learn from us and develop their soccer and coaching abilities. The kids were overjoyed to have foreign coaches come in and coach them; it was a moment that they will never forget - and us too! On our last day with FPF we had the most surreal experience coaching up in Comuna 13. Only a few years ago Comuna 13 was regarded as one of the most dangerous places within Colombia. We knew there was always a chance something could happen to us but there was no way we were going to stop that from meeting and coaching these amazing kids. As soon as the kids saw us coming, they instantly welcomed us and became tribe-like as we walked 15 minutes to the field. The parents of the kids were also very grateful towards us and were honoured that we came to their town; they shared very touching words towards us that truly touched our hearts.
From there we moved on to our last organization in Medellín called Solahis, which is situated on the outskirts of Medellín up in the hills. We spent a lot of time with the kids there, not just playing soccer and coaching, but also eating together, meeting their parents and just hanging out with them. This gave us a great opportunity to understand their daily lives, what struggles and blessings come their way. Adam had the chance to spend some time with a family high up in the comuna at their home. Even though he was warned by the locals of the risks, he wanted to see how they lived because he needed to understand their needs. It was an eye opening experience, how 1 Mother and 8 kids could live in a small wooden shack that could give-way at any moment with the next big rainstorm. Then add on top of that, no running water and mosquitos. This was not the way young kids/families should be living in a country like Colombia with so many great resources. There needs to be change because there is so much potential here in this great country.
To the coaching side of it, we ran a 5-day camp for the younger and older kids, the days were very long as we split the younger boys and girls into two groups We coached in the mornings, then in the afternoon we split the older boys and girls up as well. After the 4 training session we were exhausted by end of the day. However, the sessions were amazing and the level of play was fantastic. What really impressed us was the fact that these kids couldn’t afford to play on local teams or academies (because it’s expensive) but these kids were really tough and they all know how to ball.
Coming to end of the mission we were really sad as the children of Colombia stole our hearts, so leaving them was very difficult and for a moment we nearly stayed. But we had to come home to build for our next trip back, with more planning and fundraising we pray to head into the Amazon and up north to Guajira to reach more people of this beautiful nation. We are forever grateful to Jesus for protecting and keeping us safe. Also a special thank-you goes out to Catherine Robertson for all your hard work in planning for a great trip for Freekicks.
“Kids are kids wherever they are in the world and all they wanna do is have fun!”