Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Coaching in Chiang Mai, Thailand

It has always been a dream of mine to give back to the society, in terms of swimming, especially so to the children of Thailand. Managed to get in touch with a foundation in Chiang Mai & well, I guess things started rolling from there.

Swimming lessons were supposed to start at 9 a.m. for the children. When I reach at 8.30 a.m., these 3 boys were already outside the swimming pool waiting. I asked them in Thai, ""ทำไมคุณ ทั้งหมด ดังนั้นในช่วงต้น" (Why are you all so early?)

They replied me, "We stay very far away from here and we have no transport so we walked from our home all the way here. It's our first time here at the swimming pool and we are very excited to learn from you, Teacher."

Such simple sentences keep a teacher going. This is the kind of attitude any teacher/ coach looks for in their students.

Since they were already ready. I should get them ready too. Warm up, Boys! Oh, did I mention, the weather was around 16 degrees celsius. It was cold for me but not for them at all.

As we were doing our warm up exercises, more students started arriving. Apparently, the whole village was waiting for this Uncle to send them here on his motorbike.

After a long delay with their swimming costumes, the children were eager for Teacher Jerry to begin lesson with them.

Here's the thing that many of us took for granted, even me. As a coach for the past 15 years, never have I thought of this issue before. Swimming costume. None of these children has a swimming costume of their own. We had to borrow swimming costumes from the swimming pool counter.

It suddenly struck upon me, how lucky & fortunate our Singapore & Malaysia children are. If the zip on the costume is broken, parents will just buy them a new one. When their costumes gets too baggy, a new costume comes along. But not for these kids. They don't have the luxury of owning one for themselves. 

Taught the kids how to do some flutter kicks and got them to try it out by holding on to their floats. I really enjoy hearing their laughter & splashing of the water.

Then, there's this boy. He was afraid. He was cold. It was his first time in the swimming pool. I asked him if he wants to take a break. He shook his head and waved his hands vigorously. "Teacher, I want to learn."

The swimming pool that these children were swimming in was filled with algae. Just by looking at the photos, you can imagine how much algae there is in the water. It's green in colour. I was telling Teacher Summer that the swimming pool is slimy & it smells like a fish pond. 

However these children didn't complain a bit. They were just happy that they have a chance to be in the swimming pool. They were grateful that they have a teacher who's there to teach them how to swim.

Ended the lesson by bringing them to the deep pool to build their confidence. Jumping! They love it!

It was a fruitful experience for me. I'm thankful for the opportunity to teach these children. I'm blessed to learn so much from them.  

Here's what I plan to do for them in Year 2016. I'm going to start a campaign - Collection of swimming costumes. I reckon we will need around 30 swimming costumes for boys & girls of age 7 - 12. If you've a spare good condition swimming costume that's sitting at the corner of your house or you have outgrown that swimming costume, donate it to me. I would bring it over to Chiang Mai during my next lesson & these children will be able to own a swimming costume for themselves.

It's a very simple gesture & I truly believe they appreciate it.

As The Water Family Enrichment Centre starts going global, we will never forget to give back to the society in every little small bit we can.

Dear Olympia, your parents hope you will learn the value of giving & the only time you should look into your neighbor's bowl is to make sure they have enough.

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