A six-person team (the project director (coach and sport psychology expert), 2 soccer coaches, 1 strength and conditioning coach, 1 conflict resolution expert, and a Jordanian consultant) from Indiana offered a 4-day workshop at the Jordan Football Association to approximately 70 coaches and teachers (approximately 26 women) from the surrounding areas of Amman, Madaba, Zarqa, Ajloun, and Jerish.
On Thursday afternoon, approximately 60 boys, ages 8 -15, from the JFA grassroots program attended a 2.5 hour training session where they participated in a circuit of HD and conflict resolution activities that the coaches had previously learned, as well as a nutrition session. The coaches led these activities.
On Friday afternoon, approximately 110 children between the ages of 5 and 16 from schools and clubs in Zarqa, Amman, and Ajloun attended a 2.5 hour training session similar to the previous day and led by the coaches.
Our U.S. delegation of six project members comprised of two soccer coaches, two conflict resolution and interfaith experts, a fitness testing coach, and a Jordanian expert arrived in Amman, Jordan on December 31. This group was made up of representatives from Ball State University, the Indiana Soccer Association, and the Center for Interfaith Cooperation. We welcomed in the New Year at the American Center for Oriental Research (ACOR); our residence for the duration of our project in Jordan.
The three 2-day workshops we offered in Jordan were designed to bring soccer coaches together to discuss and educate them about ways to use soccer to strengthen the citizenship and leadership behaviors of their athletes and others. Specifically, the Indiana Soccer Association “HD” (Human Development) curriculum and a set of conflict resolution skills were introduced, along with technical, tactical, and fitness testing related soccer information. This material was also shared with the Jordanian youth that attended our workshops. Each workshop day lasted approximately 7 hours.
As an example, our first workshop occurred on January 1. It was hosted by Leaders of Tomorrow at Hashemite University in Zarqa. Twenty-two coaches recruited by Leaders of Tomorrow attended. On the second day of this workshop, approximately 50 children joined the workshop and the Jordanian coaches led the children in the “HD” and conflict resolution activities that they had learned on the first day.
Across the three locations where our program was implemented, eager local coaches, who consisted of physical education teachers, grassroots coaches, and local village coaches, shared ideas, challenges, and current methods with the U.S. Project Staff about ways to use soccer to develop athletes into more than just winning athletes, but also productive and helpful citizens. The classrooms were full of discussion and the gymnasium/field was full of energy and laughter. Each location had a different group of coaches and athletes who shared various meaningful experiences. Steve Franklin, Director of Education for the Indiana Soccer Association, taught the athletes several ‘claps’ including the helicopter, the motorcycle, and fireworks, which were a big hit for both the coaches and participant athletes. Even with language differences, soccer and the common passion among the coaches and staff to develop well-rounded children enabled all of us to unite us and allowed for a common ground from which to work.
We believe that the workshops were overwhelmingly successful, as supported by the coaches’ and athletes’ enthusiasm, the unplanned, extra meetings and partnerships that developed post-workshop, the continued contact between us and our Jordanian partners, and the smiles on the faces of the children. Both the U.S. and Jordanian groups learned more about our commonalities, rather than our differences.