Sunday, April 25, 2010

Making the Team

Last week, a few of my co-workers happened into a soccer game against some kids in the neighborhood. I listened to their banter about being thoroughly beaten by a team of eight year olds decked out in flip flops, and all the complaints about their lack of fitness. Only half paying attention to their conversation, I continued planning out my lessons for the day, until I was invited to join in for the next match, which caught me completely off-guard. I haven't played soccer since recess in grade three, if memory serves me correctly, and knowing the cultural standard here, (boys like sports, girls like shopping) I figured it was pretty safe to assume that I would be the only lady around. Some indecision followed, as I am not usually particularly good at team sports (read this on a report card; 'Ashley does not play well with others'), but on Friday evening I found myself heading up to the pitch with the boys, figuring that if it (or I) turned out to be lame, I could practice my Indonesian with someone on the sidelines. It ended up being a fantastic evening, hanging out with all the little munchkins, and I even managed to score a goal, not too bad a showing if you ask me! I did get a chance to chat with some of the kids; the few girls that were hanging out on the sidelines were especially keen to ask questions. I woke up the next morning with heavy legs and a grin on my face, partly at being included in what seems to be considered as a "boy's night," but also because I love hanging out with the locals and soaking up the culture first hand, and at the sheer pleasure of physical exertion lingering in my exhausted limbs. I got a text message this afternoon saying the kids were up for another match, and upon arriving at the meeting point, I saw these little brown faces and huge smiles radiating excitement, and then one of them asked, "Missus, again you playing?" I grinned right back at them and told them yes, I certainly was going to join in, and they sat down beside me to wait patiently for the rest of the boys to get ready to go. These experiences, the little things, the magical moments, are what make me feel like there is no where else in the world I would rather be. When people say that Indonesia gets under your skin, this is what they mean.

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