You will all best know me as Coach Charlotte, and having worked as an Assistant Coach at Sport4Kids for just shy of 2 years, I am sure I have met many of you, especially those in the Windsor area and at St John Beaumont School. Those that know me may have also realized that I have been absent from coaching our kids football classes this summer as I have been volunteering abroad in Sri Lanka. As a Psychology undergraduate this largely involved work in mental health facilities and special needs projects, however I also took over a football program at a local community school.

Football coaching in Sri Lanka was a far cry from my experiences at Sport4Kids. At Sport4Kids we are lucky enough to have the most fantastic facilities and equipment (despite Coach Adam always getting his dirty) although before I went I would never have considered having a ball each a considerable luxury. In Sri Lanka, I was coaching a group of around 40 children with 3 balls and about 6 pairs of shoes between us. Well that was until we lost a ball to a snake pit! This meant that there had to be far less emphasis on the individual skill development of the kids which was definitely apparent in their performance – teaching step-overs was as painful as pulling teeth!

However despite all these differences, there was one definite universality and that is how happy playing made them. The smiles on the faces of the kids were just as big as those I see every weekend and despite not understanding a word I said due to the language barrier, they all laughed at me just as hard. Their attitudes and sportsmanship was fantastic. It reminded me of how football and sport in general, as reminiscent of the Olympics last summer, can bring us all together and be enjoyed by all despite backgrounds and individual hardship.

I have learnt so much from my time in Sri Lanka and despite it being the most challenging experience I have yet to face, it was also the most enjoyable. I hope we can all remember what is important about football at its most basic and retain the pleasure we get from it, something that we at Sport4Kids hope to emphasize, ‘Entertaining like Walt Disney’!

Thank you to all staff and parents that have supported me in this opportunity!