Sunday, December 17, 2017
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CAREFREE JAMAICAN YOUTH PUT A SMILE ON THE FACE

 

“Yah mon, no worries, be happy”

The beautiful island of Jamaica is a wonderful place to spend a week just relaxing, eating some jerk chicken, lounging at the beach reading a book, and riding a zip line through the rain forest. Marcia and I fully enjoyed our time together there.

Then one morning in the middle of my hourly run to the snack bar to grab another plate of jerk chicken, I saw some young boys playing a game of soccer. I was between chapters in my book, so I thought it would be fun to watch the boys play for a while.  I sat on the cement steps with my jerk chicken on my lap and was excited about watching a quick game of Jamaican “football”.

And a great game it was! Three on three Jamaican football at its best. It had everything that any sports enthusiast would want to see, except for a few things like…

1.       Grass. They played on a half court basketball court, on cement. They didn’t need the perfect place, just a place.

2.       Real goals. Who needs a net? Just put down some shoes and you have fine goals.

3.       Shoes.  So what do you do when you use your shoes for the goals? “PLAY BALL!” They all played barefoot. And they all played hard. Even when they would step on a small rock or stub their toe, “no worries mon”, they just kept playing. It was just a part of the game.  One time I saw one of the boys sit down quickly in the middle of the game, lift and twist the bottom of his foot up so he could see whatever was lodged up in there, quickly remove whatever it was, get up continue playing like nothing even happened. (I need to put on shoes when I take the trash out from the kitchen to the side of the house.)

4.       Shin guards. I guess the big risk here was getting sliced in the shin by a toenail from the opposing team.

5.       Well defined boundaries. They just played and it really didn’t matter if it went out or not. Who really cares if you just want to play? I think the most needed skill here, was not dribbling around your defender, or passing the ball past your defender, but it was kicking the ball with just the right amount of force to get it past the goalie, but not so strong that it sailed into the ocean just beyond the “shoe goal” to the south.

6.       Jerseys.   Shirts and skins worked fine.

7.       Arguing. Their musical hero, Bob Marley sings it best: “don’t worry, be happy”. Even when people walked through the game, they never yelled at the wandering beach seekers, they used those moments as prime opportunities to work on their dribbling skills to weave in and out of the added obstacles.

8.       Specially folded sweat towels. The best way to wipe off sweat from your head was with an already wet and sweaty t-shirt.

9.       Post game snow cones.  And you know I wasn’t giving up any of my jerk chicken!

10.   The official score. There was no official winning team, but I do know that they had fun regardless.

It was a story well told of playing and having fun.

Just don’t forget the jerk chicken and the nail clippers!

If you have questions or comments for Tom Kuyper, you can email him at: tomkuyper@kidsandsports.com.

 

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