Our Guatemala high school girls soccer tour is officially underway! The team arrived safely in Guatemala City and as I write this we are en route to Quetzaltenango, affectionately known as Xela (Shay-la), which will be our home for the next 10 days. The girls are doing well and are starting to connect with one another. Long bus rides have a way of bringing people together, and this one is proving to help break the ice. From day 1 its already obvious that we have a few dancers in our midst and even a few aspiring singers.
Let me introduce you to our team:
We are very lucky to have players and coaches from all across Canada and the States.
Our coaching staff and team leaders consists of: Rachel – Langley, BC, Amy – Abbotsford, BC, Lauren – Dallas, TX, Hannah – Denver, CO, Sarah-Kim – Sherbrooke, QC, Heather – Langley, BC, and Reid – Blacksburg, VA. All of us have been on AIA tours before and are excited to be leading in different capacities throughout the week.
We also have two athletic therapists : Emily – Ottawa, ON, Elisa – Edmonton, AB. And finally, here is the overview of the 2019 Guatemala High School Trip: Ellie – Dallas, TX, Hannah – Edmonton, AB, Alexa- Edmonton, AB, Abby – Langley, BC, Ally – Denver, CO, Abby – Denver, CO, Kayla – Blacksburg, VA, Lauren – Cincinnati, OH, Mallory – Waunakee, Wisconsin, Trinity – Sherbrooke, QC, Lily – Sherbrooke, QC, Tessa – Sherbrooke, QC, Elle – Edmonton, AB.
What is this week going to look like?
After our team orientation on Monday we will be running a camp with high school girls that will be coming from different parts of Guatemala the rest of the week. As the local AIA staff, Cristobal Chamale looks at expanding AIA in Xela, we are hoping that this camp will help him to build new relationships and open new doors for his ministry. We will also be doing a Coaching 4 Life conferences Tuesday through Friday to build in to the local soccer and community coaches. Tack on a few games later in the week and you have a recipe for a great soccer tour!
Kayla Monaghan reflects on our first day:
The day drew to a close after the long day. Not a single eye didn’t feel the pull of sleep. Some had boarded flights the night before, braving the long trip for twenty-four hours. Others snuck in naps throughout the day after a 3am wake up call. One bag was lost, many bathroom trips at the airport were taken, and the team finally was there together. We watched in awe as our bags were stacked Tetris style on the top of the small bus outside the bustling airport. Two or three people per row tucked themselves into the rough seats, squeezing together. Brown paper bags were passed backwards, our lunch for the day. The back few rows tried to exchange names, positions, and home towns with little results other than a warm feeling of new friendships. The front rows did the same. The bus began to move, showing us the world we were stepping into for the first time. There were crowds of people wandering the streets. We shouted out familiar signs: “McDonalds!” “Walmart!” amidst the unknown city. Dogs ran around some of the children we passed. Motorcycles boldly weaved among the other traffic that slowly climbed the hills. Horns honked randomly. As the long trek continued, Lauren introduced an interesting name game. The first person would say their name and do a silly sign. The second person would repeat the first’s name and sign before saying and doing their own. That continued until the last person said 22 names and did 22 goofy signs we will probably use to remember names the next few days. We went around asking questions about dream jobs, getting to know more about our teammates. Some naps by some members of the back filled the quiet afterwards. Another hour in, old Taylor Swift songs blared from the small speaker and most of the bus joined in the fun – even our only male Reid (a little begrudgingly). Dark settled over the ride as the bus creakily climbed up and down mountains. Travel had taken its toll but we had almost reached our first day’s goal. We bustled into our home for the week, toting our bags up the fascinating staircase. Dinner was a short twenty minutes later on the rooftop dotted with twinkling lights. A few ordered hot drinks to wind down such as tea, while the others enjoyed the tasty juice provided. The food cheered us up and then released us to go back to our rooms before bed. We were loaded up with fun, new gear and then tucked into bed, ready for the rest of our busy week ahead.