The Eco Lodge has been sponsoring a kid’s football team in the village, for more than 2 years now. All the boys, who are aged 10-14yrs, receive boots and uniforms, and they train twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Eco Lodge guests are always welcome to join in for a friendly game with the Tigers.
The pitch used to be knee-high in grass, so first thing we did was buy a lawn mower, and during that first year, our son Larz (15yrs old at the time) coached the team, which the boys decided to name The ‘Sarinbuana Bali Tigers’. You can imagine how proud we were of Larz, taking charge of 20 rowdy young boys, and molding them into a team. Nowadays, their permanent coach is Made Putra, a great guy who cares deeply about the kids, and who loves football.
When the team first traveled to compete in the city they did poorly, and for kids who see themselves as having lowly status in the society, this was a hard time. It seemed to reinforce the idea that farm kids from a remote village could not compete with higher-status city kids. Now however, things have changed.
In 2 years, we’ve seen what can be achieved with consistent support and training. From an undisciplined group of farm boys, the team has become an organized football force to be reckoned with. Nowadays, when the ‘Sarinbuana Bali Tigers’ compete in the city, they win 3 out of 4 of their games. Last time, in Denpasar, the opposing coach asked if he could hire several of our boys to play in his team!
As a kid and young man, I never got into sports, it’s only in recent years, via my sons, that I’ve come to learn about, and love the ‘beautiful game’, football. Now I get it. The changes I’ve seen in our village boys have been amazing. They used to act only as individuals, or in small groups. Now, they work together as a team that knows it can compete strongly in the city. Poor kids, farm boys with low status in the society, can stand out and shine on the football pitch. And we can see the psychological and health benefits, they’re stronger and more confident, and they have more stamina.
If you’re a football fan, come and have a kick with us. I’m 53 but I often play with the boys. I aim to become the best, non ex-professional, 60yr old football player in Bali! Many guests have played with us over the last couple of years, it’s great fun and a good way to get a feel for the local kids, but beware… Our boys are pretty good.
If you’d like to contribute, please bring a ball or some other football gear. The boys love shirts from famous teams, and we go through a lot of balls. If you see the value in this program, you’re also welcome to donate. We’re currently making plans to support a team for older boys, 14yrs +, so when our kids leave the ‘Bali Tigers’ and move on to high school, they’ll be able to continue with their much-loved football.