I spent the past few days at the girls' under 14 GISST (German International School Sports Tournament) soccer tournament. I don't coach soccer. In fact, I know very little about soccer. But the teacher that I coached cross country with does soccer also and asked if I'd come along as a chaperone. So on Thursday afternoon we took 12 girls in grades 5-8 on a train toward Berlin. I say toward it because we didn't really get to Berlin. We went to Berlin-Brandenburg International School, which is somewhere near Potsdam.
Since the tournament was over 2 days, the girls stay with families from the host schools. Usually they are families with kids who play on the home teams. Planning one of these tournaments is a huge coordinated effort - each team comes in separately and needs transportation to the school, the athletic director needs to recruit families for housing, then they need to match up kids with host families and get their dietary and emergency information out, the coaches need hotel reservations, and then of course there are games to organize, score, referee, etc. Luckily for me, I just had to show up and supervise.
I stood on the sidelines during the five games that our team played and yelled non-descript things like "way to go" and "hustle" and "get that ball." I kept Jessica, the coach, company and made sure the kids had their stuff and got to where they needed to go and that no one abducted them at the train station. The ISHR Mustangs did, well, pretty badly. We got 7th place out of 8 teams. Our final game, the one that determined 7th and 8th place, was a score of 0-0 and went into a shoot out, which we won. It was not a feat of athletic prowess. But, no one had a bad host family, there was only one episode of crying, and we had no injuries other than some sore toes.
On our way back to Hannover, the train filled up with rowdy fans coming from the Hannover 96 soccer game (They are a professional team, not an under 14 girls team). There were also police in riot gear to keep them in line. Nothing really happened, except that the soccer fans wanted to talk to the kids. This made us a little nervous since most of the fans were drunk and the girls like attention and are too old to not talk to strangers. They decided to tell all their new friends that we scored 16 goals each game and won the whole tournament. Thankfully we got them all off the train and back to their parents without losing them in the crowd.
I can't say I learned a lot about soccer over the weekend, but at least I now know 12 more kids in the school that I can call by name when I cover teach. I can also call out things like "be aggressive out there" and sound convincing.
- Thanks for coming to my blog. It started as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, and now has become an ongoing project. I'm an American living in Germany and trying to travel whenever I can. I write about my experiences as an expatriate (the interesting ones and the embarrassing ones), and about my travels. There are some recurring characters in this blog, particularly my husband Brian and several of our friends. The title comes from the idea that living in a foreign country means making a lot of mistakes. So the things you used to do easily you now have to try over and over again. Hopefully, like me, you can laugh at how idiotic it feels. If you have happened upon my blog, then welcome. Knowing that people are reading what I write makes me keep going. Feel free to write comments or suggestions for future posts.