Every morning before the sun rises, 25-year-old Carlos Sánchez says a prayer in his one-room hut, grabs a pair of binoculars and slowly climbs up into a lonely treehouse that leans precariously over the edge of a mountain.
From his perch high above the misty folds of the Ecuadorian Andes, Sánchez peers across the emerald valley’s patchwork fields towards the towering 5,023m-tall crater of Tungurahua, a wildly active stratovolcano whose name means ‘throat of fire’ in the local Quechua language. He then scans the deep ravines and twisting chasms that shoot dangerously down Tungurahua’s slopes towards his family’s hometown of Baños, until they disappear into the clouds below.
ago there was an attempt to ban boxing by children in Thailand, but it did not succeed. The only condition stipulated under current law is parental consent for children under 15 (which can also be delegated to the coach) and the use of protection, without specifying what kind. Both parents and fight organisers opposed the law on the grounds that in Thailand there are thousands of families in need of the income that can be earned from child boxing. According to various studies, whether by the US Department of Labor, the National Youth Office or the International Labour Organization (ILO), more than half of the children fight to contribute to their family’s finances.
That’s the question I set out to answer when I attended my local club’s house league kick-off day. As I stood at the front entrance of the indoor turf field, I could feel the excitement, anticipation, and anxiety in the air.
Thepsal is 14 years old and this was not his first fight. Less than an hour ago, in the locker room, while they smeared oil on his body, the boy spoke brave words that actually disguised his sense of impending defeat: “I’m not afraid to get into the ring, but I’m terrified that I’m going to lose.”
For some, it would be their rookie season. A season of firsts – first pass, first goal, first time being part of a team. For others, a summer tradition was beginning yet again. Regardless of prior experience, I wanted to know the surprising things that kids loved about soccer. And for the newbies, what were they looking forward to most?
Not so shockingly, scoring goals was the most popular answer across the board. And why wouldn’t it be? Scoring goals is the essence of soccer. But this shouldn’t be confused with winning, which accounted for only one answer during the entire day.
The reaction after a child scores their first goal is one of the most defining moments for me in the game. It’s pure joy. So I wasn’t surprised when so many children categorized scoring as the most fun part of soccer.