Last night was the first time in three days that I got a proper night's sleep. The trip has really taken a toll on me and my two colleagues, having to take care of 17 kids on a full time basis. Any person in their right mind would look at us and say we're crazy, and in all fairness during our down time we did look at each other and ask what the heck are we doing with our lives??? But deep down, I know that I cannot possibly see myself doing another job or sitting in an office for 8 hours a day rather than spending my time coaching, mentoring and being a friend for these kids.
During our movie night on Saturday, I asked the lad who I previously wrote about in my blog post what his favourite part of the trip is, to which he answered the football tournament itself. I asked him what about outside of football, and his answer was one that made the entire weekend worth it: "you".
I was hit with the reality that I am leaving Vietnam this Sunday midnight to take up a full time job as head of soccer at a summer camp in America. Knowing that I am a kid's favourite part of the trip epitomizes the best and worst thing about this job. You spend quality time getting to know and bonding with a player, but either you have to leave or they have to leave. It's heartbreaking to have to say goodbye to such a wonderful kid, but what happened here gives me a lot of hope and optimism about my next two months coaching soccer full time where I will meet 48 new players who will call me their coach and will put the same faith in me as these lads have.
By the end of the trip, before leaving the airport I told the lad that he is an amazing kid and that I want him to stay just the way he is. He in return said that I am an amazing coach, and gave me the tightest hug I have received in my life. Moments like these are the only thing keeping me in this job, and the only answer to the times when I rip my hair out thinking why am I even doing this at all.
About the Author
Bao "Terry" Cao is currently a coach at Manchester United Foundation and the FA Development Centre for girls. Terry is licensed by both the FA and USSF. He shares his personal experience of being involved in youth soccer as both a coach and an outside viewer.