August 18, 2004: Headlines: COS - Senegal: Sports: Soccer: Lincoln Journal: Peace Corps volunteers in the region of Kounkane, organized and held village boys and girls soccer games

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Senegal: Peace Corps Senegal : The Peace Corps in Senegal: August 18, 2004: Headlines: COS - Senegal: Sports: Soccer: Lincoln Journal: Peace Corps volunteers in the region of Kounkane, organized and held village boys and girls soccer games

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Peace Corps volunteers in the region of Kounkane, organized and held village boys and girls soccer games

Peace Corps volunteers in the region of Kounkane, organized and held village boys and girls soccer games

Peace Corps volunteers in the region of Kounkane, organized and held village boys and girls soccer games

International sportsmanship has Lincoln logo

By Deborah Comer

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Caption: Senegalese boys participate in an 'international' tournament wearing jerseys donated by American towns, including Lincoln. Above, girls and boys arrive at the elementary school in Kounkane for the tournament. (Courtesy photo)

Imagine five rickety minivans pulling up to an elementary school located in Kounkane, a small town in southern Senegal, West Africa. Imagine the shouts of laughter and excitement belting out of these minivans as 100 children, 10 coaches, and five Peace Corps volunteers exit. The energy and noise permeating from this small area could be felt and heard miles away.

The day was July 30, 2004. Five villages came together to compete in a soccer tournament and fight for the Kounkane Cup. Throughout the year, Thomas Coyne of Philadelphi,; Paul Menard of New Bedford,; Patricia Owen of St. Paul,Minn.; Allison Youart of East Lansing, Mich; Michael Comer of Wellesley,; and Deborah Comer of Hong Kong, all Peace Corps volunteers in the region of Kounkane, organized and held village boys and girls soccer games.

Thanks to family, friends, and schools back home, our children wore American soccer jerseys with pride. Each village represented and wore jerseys from their volunteer's hometown. The children and residents of Dialicounda, the village of Peace Corps volunteers Michael and Deborah Comer, would like to thank Wellesley High School and teacher/coach Caroline Nesbit for donating uniforms.

And Kabendou, the village of Peace Corps Volunteer Allison Youart, would like to thank Lincoln Youth Soccer and the Hicks family of Lincoln for donating uniforms.

For most of the girls, the soccer games during the year were their first ever. For most of the children, this was the first tournament they participated in. For all, this was the first chance to bring home a trophy.

The day started with a brief explanation by Michael Comer of the rules and regulations of the tournament. He and Tom Coyne had devised a schedule where all the teams played each other in 20-minute matches. A win was worth 3 points, a tie 1 point, and a loss 0 points. The teams who acquired the most points at the end of the day went on to the finals.

After a rocky start of getting the teams where they were supposed to be, the games began. With the help of Senegalese coaches and Peace Corps volunteers, the matches went smoothly, and the children quickly fell into a routine. The excitement was contagious. In the midst of keeping track of game time, making sure the children had enough water, and cheering for my teams, I took a breather once in a while, looked around, and soaked in the excitement. My husband and I were in a small town in Africa watching 100 children participating in their first soccer tournament. What an amazing experience.

After four tiring hours of soccer in the scorching sun, the results for the finals came out. For the boys, a village wearing Minnesota Youth Soccer uniforms and a village wearing non-denominational uniforms made it to the finals. For the girls, the village with non-denominational uniforms was once again a finalist.

However, for the second girls' spot, there was a tie between the team wearing Philadelphia uniforms and the team wearing Wellesley High School uniforms. After an extremely close shoot out, unfortunately, Dialicounda, the team wearing Wellesley High School uniforms did not make it to the finals.

Kabendou, wearing Lincoln Youth Soccer uniforms, played extremely well, however, neither boys nor girls reached the finals. Despite these outcomes, Michael, Allison, and I were very proud of our teams' effort. They gave it their all and took the losses as adults.

At 2 p.m. we all took a much-needed lunch break. Our exhausted, sweaty, but still smiling children devoured lunch, relaxed, and hung out with each other. The Peace Corps volunteers organized a deejay for some music entertainment, a welcomed surprise for the children. At four p.m. the finals began.

The girls' game went once again to a shootout, with the team wearing the non-denominational uniforms taking home the trophy. In the boys' game, the team wearing Minnesota Youth Soccer uniforms won and took home the trophy.

The Peace Corps volunteers, coaches, and children had a fun-filled day. It felt great to provide this event for our children. We were proud of the great sportsmanship they displayed, even those who did not make it to the finals.

Thank you again to Lincoln and Wellesley for your generous support of sports in rural southern Senegal, West Africa.

Deborah Comer is a Peace Corps volunteer. Her husband Michael Comer, also a Peace Corps volunteer, grew up in Wellesley.





When this story was prepared, here was the front page of PCOL magazine:

This Month's Issue: August 2004 This Month's Issue: August 2004
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and who can come up with the funniest caption for our Current Events Funny?

Exclusive: Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed published exclusively on the web by Peace Corps Online saying the Dayton Daily News' portrayal of Peace Corps "doesn't jibe with facts."

In other news, the NPCA makes the case for improving governance and explains the challenges facing the organization, RPCV Bob Shaconis says Peace Corps has been a "sacred cow", RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support for his Aug 10 primary and has a plan to win in Connecticut, and the movie "Open Water" based on the negligent deaths of two RPCVs in Australia opens August 6. Op-ed's by RPCVs: Cops of the World is not a good goal and Peace Corps must emphasize community development.


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Story Source: Lincoln Journal

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Senegal; Sports; Soccer

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