Goal! Football team trip to Puerto Cortés
On Friday, January 21, I joined the Mayatan elementary boys’ soccer team on their first big trip, all the way to Puerto Cortés on the north coast of Honduras to play Atlantic Bilingual School. I was undoubtedly the luckiest “American” teacher at Mayatan, and it might not be a stretch to say that I had a better day than any other English speaking volunteer in all of Honduras.
I owed my good luck to the fact that the team has eleven of my students (5th grade). In addition to these, there are many 3rd, 4th, and 6th graders. Finally, the roster is topped off with a 1st grader named Marvin, a little boy fearless enough to play with boys 5 years his senior and talented enough to perform a running, hands free forward flip. These little rascals and many of their parents piled into the bus at 6am for an exciting and rambunctious 4 hour drive.
The drive is beautiful, with flocks of white birds flying along the Copán River for some time before the road ascends into higher mountains and finally drops into the valley where San Pedro Sula lies. It wasn’t long before my iPod became a universally coveted item and thus an exercise in classroom management. I gladly shared it in the spirit of English language acquisition. The boys have a strong preference for Michael Jackson, but I am slowly instilling an appreciation for Johnny Cash. The Man in Black is always an easy draw over handwriting exercises near the end of a long school day.
Arrival at the hot and muggy coast was announced by one of the boys, who exclaimed “que masiso!” (“cool!”) when the ocean came into sight. Pictures were taken at the beach and the boys played catch-me-if-you-can with the waves. But when new uniforms (donated by a local businessman and team parent) were doled out, the attention was back to the soccer game.
It was a hard fought and entertaining game, played on a well-equipped field (“que grande!”) that was complete with covered bleachers and stadium lights, located across the street from the beach. The main highlight for Mayatan in the first half was little Marvin, who almost managed to get the ball past the final defenders. Besides this bit of excitement, the half was an anxious one as Mayatan spent much time on the defense, with the score 2-0 when the whistle blew.
Still, these boys are confident and strong, and they love soccer. They came back in the second half with three unanswered goals from 5th graders Otho, Adan, and Hugo. Mayatan and Atlantic battled throughout the half for the lead and the game went into overtime, with Atlantic coming out on top, 5-4.
The boys were clearly bummed out and naturally unsatisfied with the officiating, but they recovered quickly, as they are far too young and forgetful to have their peace of mind disturbed by such trivial things. Besides, how could you be sad when you get to go to… Pizza Hut!
All in all, Puerto Cortés had turned out to be the ultimate excursion, especially considering that some of the boys rarely ever ride in a car or see the coast. I was as proud as a 5 month old teacher can be, so I imagine the parents were pretty happy. It was a long and late 5 hour drive back to Copán Ruinas, and one of my more difficult students fell asleep on my shoulder, marking me as the luckiest volunteer in Honduras.