Soccer Brings Typical & Special Needs Together

Soccer Brings Typical & Special Needs Together


Soccer on the island of Bali: Accepting, Accommodating & Applauding

Yesterday 26 typical children arrived on a simple soccer field in Mas & were joined by 4 children with physical challenges, children you rarely see outside their villages & rarely see in a public school setting. The 26 typical were receiving scholarship funds so they could attend regular school, an activity not all children can afford in Bali. Two of the physically challenged children came in their wheel chairs pushed by friends or teachers. Two others smiled as they walked on the field encouraged by their teacher. One child’s mom supported quietly in the background. It was the first time her son had left the village & joined a community activity other than time in therapy or at YPK. This young boy was about 11 years old.

My youngest son had planned all the activities for the two hour soccer event & had brought 30 leather soccer balls, one for each participant, jerseys for the children to take home as well, soccer ladders, cones & support equipment to execute the exercises they would engage in.

My middle son listened carefully the night before about the activities & was asked to support the children & come up with some additional modifications for those less able.

My youngest son’s significant other also joined with her excitement, enthusiasm & caring manner to help facilitate the activities as well.

Cones were set up along one side of the field for all to line up, a ball at the feet for each.

Other cones & ladders were set up to outline centers where a variety of activities would occur.

Children with physical challenges were accepted in the lines, at the centers & on the field enjoying the activities.

Children with physical challenges were cheered & applauded as they tried and succeeded at each activity.

Some activities were modified to accommodate feet& legs that did not work & yet there was a smile on every child even with his or her limitations. Teachers pushed wheel chairs, hands held balls as they were moved across the field in their chairs & helped to throw balls through nets, into hula-hoops or straight at the cones to knock them down.

Two of the children with balance and strength challenges ran the lines, fought to get a ball away from another & balanced as their feet went in and out of spaces along the ladders. Typical eyes on them smiling.

Did I mention that none of the coaches spoke Bahasa or Balinese but there was absolutely no miss communication between them & the children that day? The children watched & the coaches demonstrated & the children tried every exercise.

It was a day of high fives, applauding, verbal celebrations (Bagus (good job), hooray, yes, great, try again)

Karen Kaplan
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