My big project, Finishing the Ward 4 AMICAALL/Nhlangano Town Council Social Center, the PCPP


Peace Corps Partnership Proposal (PCPP) with the Nhlangano Town Council (NTC)

First application draft submitted Feb, 2011
Approved & Funding Begins on PC website May 17th
Construction started on Oct 24th.
All exterior construction done by Dec 20th.
Grand Opening Jan 5th, 2012
Round 2 of the Funding arrives in early January.
Interior Only Construction Restarts Jan 16th.
Construction all done Feb 16th (minus a million tiny To Do's)
Project Officially Closed May 4th, 2012

Let the children play, learn & be safe.

As of Aug 25th, 2012, I am no longer a PCV, I am now RPCV (Return Peace Corps Volunteer). This blog is my experience in Swaziland between June of 2010 & Aug of 2012. Enjoy.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Game #34 16-10-8 58 Points -- Season Done 7th Place

34 games and 10 months. The 2010 - 2011 Swaziland Super League season is over.

So are last game came down to if we got a draw or victory we finished in 6th place (which is where we were for most of the season). We are playing a team that is ranked 5th from the bottom and being relegated (being sent down to the lower league)

I will give you one guess what happened.

Well, if you guessed that the players weren't ready and we lost you would have guessed right. The game was scheduled for 10:30 in the am, which means no one is up. As the khumbi was pulling away players were showing up. No warm up before the game. The goalie has to sit out the last game cause of the stupid error 2 games ago but the high scoring forward gets to play. Which makes no sense since both players sat out the same official game. So we play a defender in the goal. The first time anyone has played in goal other than are normal goalie.

Anyway, they score on us in the first 5 minutes, then we proceed to miss shot after shot, make bad passes, make good passes that turn into missed attempts. After half time we allow another goal in, this one was actually a really good shot. so props to the shooter. We do get a very beautiful goal right at the end. But we end the season disappointed.

And personally I think that is how at this moment I would qualify how I feel about the season = DISAPPOINTED. To many things were out of my control or if they were I probably handled them wrong. But in very few cases of the draws and losses of the season would I claim they were from bad play on the field. The players are actually really pretty damn good but getting them ready and prepared and fit for the games ready showed at the end. Since returning from the US only one player who has come to training all season remained as the sole one who seemed to care.

I was asked to write an article for the Swaziland SoJo (our monthly newspaper written and edited by us and for us, generally it is pretty entertaining and filled with stories about what the different PCV's are doing around the country and also BS) I regular write movie reviews.

So here is the article, I think it puts a nice closing on the season, although next Saturday we are having a party and I am giving away LA Galaxy items. As much as I am disappointed overall there are a good 15 guys (out of 26) on the team that were pretty much there every week and deserve to be celebrated.

Enjoy the read:

Swazi Soccer as coached by an American

So I got very lucky that my counterpart was an executive of a Super League soccer team and that I am certified coach in America with 7 years under my belt. Those two combined factors allowed me to become the head coach of Black Terrors Football Club, the most popular team in town.

The Super League is basically 3rd division, it is part of Swaziland’s professional soccer league and potentially the team could get promoted to play in the Premiere League. But Super Leagues are regional, so there is one league in each region of Swaziland, so its 3rd division times 4. Even though this team is in a professional league, it is far from professional since none of the players, coaches or executives are paid. (They are paid in the Premiere League but not the First Division (which is actually the 2nd). So it creates a very interesting dynamic for a team. It is a serious league with serious fans but the players are basically playing for fun or glory if the team wins. The executives pay out a lot of money, yet have very little hope of any return. (Only the top 4 teams win any significant money).
As far as I know I am the only American coach to ever coach officially in Swaziland Soccer Association. So by just standing on the sidelines it created an interesting effect on my life, I became very quickly well known in my community of Nhlangano, which is the 3rd or 4th largest town in Swaziland. It helped my integration tremendously into an entire town by just becoming the Coach. In fact, as time has gone on I am called Coach about 50% of time, then Josh, then my Swazi name. So as life has played out during my service, coaching soccer has come to define who I am here in Swaziland. And I am very thankful to God & the Peace Corps for being able to just walk into this opportunity.

The season just ended on the weekend of July 9th. Our final game was a loss that prevented us from moving up to 6th place from 7th. We finished the season 16-10-8 58 Points. As I have heard many times it is a big improvement over last year. To tell you the truth I feel like that record is disappointing.

And here is why, there are at least 19 points that we lost due to late or not enough players, disorganized executives, too much drinking by the players and my using the wrong line up to start the game. That 19 points was 3 loses (9 points) and 5 draws (10 points) that are all because of the 4 factors I listed above, though never all at once but often a combo of several. If we had those 19 points, we would be number #1 and would be promoted to the National First Division, instead I am left with trying to figure out how to correct these messes for the next season.

But even though the season ended on a down note, I sure had an amazing time coaching for 34 games (the season started in October).

And here are a couple of highlights:

The teams 1st win of the season after 3 draws in the first 3 games and everyone wondering about the American coach.

This game I will remember for the rest of my life. And it was insanely dramatic against a rival team (this team finished 4th in the league) and its goalkeeper, who in the future I would come to work with on a daily basis. They scored first, then we equalized by half time. I introduced the BTA (Black Terrors Attack) which is the strategy of switching on-field formations from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 at half time (basically switching from only 2 forwards to 3 forwards). I brought in another forward and we attacked them hard. Halfway through the 2nd half we scored to go in the lead, the place erupted. But it wasn’t over. With about 10 minutes left in the game, we committed a foul in the penalty box and the referee awarded the other team a penalty kick. Penalty kicks usually favor the kicker. My goalkeeper, who I have worked with a lot in practice, walks up to the kicker and adjusts the ball for him. And then proceeds to make the most amazing save I have ever seen in person. He dove high and to his right, he saved the ball with his left arm just below the cross bar half way to the side post. This save PRESERVED are first win. IT WAS SO EXCITING!!!!!!!!

In game #6, we are playing the #1 ranked team (they finished 3rd at the end of the season). All game long it is a battle, we shoot and miss they counter attack. At half time we switch to the BTA. And we press hard. With probably less than 2 minutes left or in extra time, WE SCORE. The young forward on the team who has the most goals for the season puts the ball in the back of the net. Literally the field empties of Black Terrors players and the fans mob him from the stands. IT WAS SO AMAZING, but I was screaming at the players to get ready for a counterattack. And for the next 5 minutes the other team got off 2 shots that were close. WE WON!!!! A 1-0 Win.

And I got some coaching challenges, I guarantee if I coach the rest of my life, I will never see again. One game we started with 10 players the other team with 9 at half time 2 of their players showed up to make them a full team (11 a side), so we went from a man up to a man down that is radical change at half time. We tied that game against a team with a losing record.

In the same theme, another game we started with 9 men against the team ranked second from the bottom of the log to their 10 players. We scored 2 goals by half time, then all in the second half my star forward gets a red card for saying bad language back to his OWN keeper in siSwati, who was yelling at him for a mistake, we go down to 8 players, then one of mine shows up, back to 9 and then another of mine shows up we are even with 10 each side. We have a hand ball in the box and give away a penalty kick, its 2-1 but it looks like the team has lost. They allow another goal 2-2 Draw and then my keeper picks up the ball with his hands outside of the box, an instant yellow card which makes his third for the season so he has to sit out the next game. Unbelievable 9 to 8 to 9 to 10. And 2 key players miss the next game. That is uncoachable.

The season played out basically that when we played the best teams we were able to beat or draw with them but we played terrible or didn’t have enough players against the lowest ranked teams that we are supposed to beat & often got draws. One time the uniforms didn’t show til after the start of the game time, another the Khumbi lost its brakes, one player had 2 different shoes break apart on him in one game, twice we beat better teams well playing a man down and we hit the post so many times this season with our shoots that I suggested we rename the team the “Black Posts”.

Was coaching the Black Terrors hard YES, was it disappointing YES, was it exciting HELL YES. Was it fulfilling #@&% YES!! These are the kinds of memories that can only be created by being in the Peace Corps.

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