Tom Kollmar, a young floorball developer from Bonn, Germany, spent six months in Peru. What he experienced “grounded” him, he says. Here comes his story about criminal dogs, broken glass and greatful kids.
“To leave Germany for a voluntary service abroad was a decision I made even before my final high school exams. I decided to go to Peru. With the Maltese we built a “comedor'” there. Though this word means something like a canteen, it was actually a youth centre for kids of all ages.
Our comedor was situated close to Lima, in the “Pueblos Jóvenes”. The Pueblos were illegal settlements consisting of wooden huts. My task was to entertain the kids and to keep them away from the streets. So I picked the most entertaining activity I knew to do so – floorball.
It was a lot about freestyle. We didn’t mix only chicos with chicas but also all age groups. After a short and resolutely ignored introduction to basic floorball techniques everyone was invited to grab a stick and join.
As a result almost everything was allowed. It was more about fencing than passing and when I tried to apply any official rule I was punished with mean looks. We played on a stony field, littered with broken glass and dog excrements. It was a wonder, no kid got injured – a positive fact, regarding the fact that health insurance is an extremely rare thing in the “Pueblos Jóvenes”.
Of course nobody had known floorball before in the settlement. Eyes were shining brightly when I marched with my stick set on the ‘cancha’, the sports field, or rather the ‘sports field’. I, being a ‘Gringo’, made the thing even more interesting. Once a kid asked: ‘What’s wrong with your eyes? They’re blue.’
So there was this blonde, blue-eyed boy, in the middle of that stony sports field with some strangle curved sticks trying to control a bunch of yelling, fencing kids. Their parents and everyone who witnessed this show laughed at me. Sometimes a dog stole our ball and a cloud of screaming kids began chasing him through the neighboring market stands.
But sometimes, not very often, but sometimes indeed, there were some nice plays, sometimes even some goals. Then the kids got ice-cream. Both teams, of course.
Actually there were floorball developers in Peru before I arrived. Every year guys from Floorball4all (‘Unihockey für Straßenkinder’) visit the country and instruct coaches. For a little fee they receive necessary material and try to do their best. A Swiss guy living in Peru tries to coordinate all of this. I contacted him and he helped me a lot providing me with equipment.
When I recall these six months I think this time made me calmer, it grounded me. ‘Pueblos Jóvenes’ helped me to appreciate where I come from.”
by Tom Kollmar