Coaching tennis in Vietnam
The idea of volunteering as a sports coach in Vietnam filled me with excitement from the moment I read about it, as I am a sports enthusiast who loves helping people. I couldn’t wait to come here and have thoroughly enjoyed being a sports coach at my placement. Although coaching sport is my main role, I also get to do a little bit of English teaching. Most weeks I will have about 12 periods of sports coaching, and six or seven periods of English teaching. I find this to be a great combination, and have had incredible experiences with both as the students are always so enthusiastic and polite.
In my spare time, I often join in on tennis or soccer matches that are constantly being played at the college. I can’t walk past the tennis courts without being invited to play a game, and I rarely turn down the offer as it is a sport I have played for many years and now coach as a part-time job back home. I particularly enjoy playing tennis here because the Vietnamese players organise their own tournaments and always have ball boys for their matches, so it is great to join in on. Sometimes students ask me to have a hit of tennis with them and give them extra coaching, which I am always more than happy to do. There is also a big sports centre across the road with a gym and swimming pool that I make use of nearly every day.
My favourite parts about volunteering at the college are when I feel I am making a difference, and when I see the students enjoying themselves. The very first time I coached tennis here was a memorable experience, as I was asked to teach approximately 60 students on one court. It was a little daunting at first and not many of the students spoke much English. However, after overcoming the language barrier that existed between myself and the students by undertaking a quick game of charades, they were able to catch on to what I was trying to teach, and soon began laughing and having a good time. It was extremely satisfying to walk past the tennis courts the next day to find that the Vietnamese tennis coach had been implementing my coaching methods that I had demonstrated the day before.
I came to Vietnam hoping to gain valuable life skills, greater independence, and to have an exciting yet challenging time. The experience has provided all of the above, and more. More importantly, I feel proud to have helped other people and I will endeavour to soak up every opportunity I get in the remaining weeks I have here.
Submitted by: Tim Witherow