An Adventure to Marrakesh, Morocco
George Perry, Indiana Soccer League Commissioner, recently returned to Indiana after an adventurous trip to Morocco. Perry, alongside Indiana ODP staff coach Mike Aycock, and Erwin Van Elst from the Muelensteen Method, set off for the African nation to work with local programs and members of the sports community.
Abedessamad Tizaf (Abe), men’s soccer coach at St. Mary of the Woods College, developed a platform to make a social impact on the sports community and Moroccan citizens, primarily through football (soccer). This program, Kwayria, would be the host of the Indiana-based contingent. The group’s main purpose for the trip was to host a clinic to provide educational instruction to local coaches.
50-60 coaches signed up for the clinic, led by Perry, Aycock, and Van Elst, alongside two Moroccan coaches. Shortly into the journey, the group faced their first challenge, one that has afflicted the world for over a year. Due to recent COVID-19 outbreaks, the Moroccan government disallowed group gatherings. With this large hurdle in front of them, the Kwayria group quickly jumped to a solution. With players still able to attend in person, the clinic leaders were able to provide demonstrations for the coaches virtually as Kwayria set up live streaming for each field session.
With players' skill level’s ranging from novice to those in the Moroccan national youth team pool, the group had wide-ranging experience to work with. These players persevered through two, 105 degree days and other inclement weather in order to participate.
“The players were one of the many highlights of the trip,” said Perry. “Even though they could barely understand what we were saying, they responded to our demonstrations and interpretations with enthusiasm and a smile!”
In addition to the extreme heat, Perry noted multiple firsts in his storied career as a coach and administrator. While it’s not uncommon for games in the midwestern United States to be canceled due to rain or snow, day one of the clinic in Marrakesh was cut short due to a sand storm.
Throughout the unique event, in which all instruction was provided through a live stream, the coaching educators and the coaches quickly learned and adapted.
“We had to learn how long we could speak so the translator could be more accurate with the information we were sharing with the players and the coaches,” Perry mentioned.
Fortunately, the coaching contingent was still able to hold the coaches' reception at a local hotel. For Perry, this was one of the most rewarding parts of the trip.
“What an incredibly humble, warm, and giving group of coaches,” Perry noted. “All of their questions were about how they can make their team environment better for the players. It really made for a tremendous evening.”
With the coaches' clinic taking place on Thursday and Friday, youth games were scheduled for the group to watch on the weekend. With the shutdown of events, the games were unable to take place. Zyad Beloved and Salah Laaniba, members of the Kwayria group, were still able to provide the trio with some incredible experiences before departing from north Africa.
The group journeyed out to the Arafay Desert where they enjoyed camel rides, a unique resort, and astonishing sunset views for the final day in the beautiful country. On Monday, they headed home, and along the way were welcomed into Abe’s wife’s home in Casablanca for lunch. The hospitality, Perry noted, was unlike anywhere he has ever visited.
“I have been fortunate to travel to several countries and almost every state. This trip will rank as one of the best,” commented Perry. “I hope I will be able to repay their hospitality someday. In the meantime, I hope we will be able to create a relationship between the incredible mission of Kwayria, Indiana Soccer, and United Soccer Coaches.”