After 4 months on the road, travel burnout was beginning to kick in – sightseeing had become a chore and I was missing the sense of purpose that work used to provide. Thankfully my friends at OSCAR India supplied the antidote – and asked me to do some football coaching.
OSCAR is an organisation that uses football to bring about positive change within disadvantaged communities. Young leaders are recruited to coach teenagers and impart various social messages; from addiction and peer pressure to population control and gender equality.
With the help of my new mate Siam we devise and coach our first session. My inexperience matters not, just being an Englishmen (from the home of football) is enough to impress. All they want is to play with the ball and learn some new skills… Fortunately, flamboyant flicks were my forte – I knock ’em bandy.
Chatting with the kids, we get onto favourite players – it’s all Messi and Ronaldo. I know they like a god out here, so I throw in another one – “Le God” (aka Matt Le Tissier). They’ve never heard of him… The little blasphemers need more education than I thought.
(A lesson on the legend of Frank Worthington crosses my mind. Then I remember the title of his autobiography – probably not the sort of role model OSCAR are looking for).
So with the missus preoccupied on a yoga teacher training course. A month in South Goa dividing my time between the training pitch and the beaches of Agonda, Palolem and Patnem, was just what I needed.
I had wanted to use this midlife interlude to explore career options and potential sidelines, and this foray into charity work and football coaching has given me something to think about. Working with teenagers and helping them develop and improve was quite enjoyable. I may get involved again in the future.