Playing Floor Hockey in Cusco

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Ali and I arrived in Cusco about 3 months ago now and we absolutely adore the Chicas Dinámicas, who always come to class excited and ready to play. Usually, one of the girls will spot us in the car or the combi (bus) and start yelling “Profe!!” or “Chicas Dinámicas!!” and then they all run to greet us. It’s pretty cute, although sometimes makes it hard to get out of the car.

A particularly enthusiastic group of girls is from Santoni, one of the bigger schools we work with. We consistently have about 20 Santoni girls at class every Tuesday and Thursday. Our first week, we were really excited to see such a big turnout, but also knew we had a hard task of learning all of their names and building a personal connection with each of them, which is an important part of GSW. With each passing day, we learned more names, and now I am proud to say that we know all of them. We continue to learn more about what excites and challenges them each individually.

The first sport we played with Santoni was floor hockey. It presented an interesting challenge because very few of the girls had ever heard of hockey before, and none of them had played. We started slowly by teaching the basics such as how to hold a stick and to dribble in place. We built up the skills each day by adding drills that incorporated dribbling and passing on the move, as well as shooting. By far, their favorite drill was Steal the Bacon.

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We weren’t sure how the first real game day would go, but our concerns were quickly quelled after the starting face-off. The girls were so excited to put their new skills into use, and it was incredible to see a group of girls who had never even heard of hockey just a week before play a real game that incorporated passing and dribbling.

At the end of each class, we pass around the Kimochi, a little doll that has a happy and a sad face. The girls can pick one or both of the faces and say what made them happy and/or sad in class that day. After we played hockey, almost every girl contributed something and talked about how they were happy that they learned a brand new sport and skills. We are excited to see them grow as we teach them nine more sports throughout the year!

 

— Carly