The world has unfortunately experienced a number of traumatic recent experiences as I write this in July 2016. Last week there was another major incident in France, and a coup attempt in Turkey. Not long before that was the attack on police officers in Dallas. Of a less violent nature – though perhaps no less traumatic for some – was the UK vote to leave the European Union.
Those are just a few in a long string of news items in the world over the last year.
Most volleyball coaches work almost exclusively with players from their own region. Yes, if you coach at a professional club, or at a major college or university, you get players from a wider area. The vast majority of youth teams, though, comprise of kids from the same general area as the coach. Even at the higher levels, all the players may be from the same country, so are culturally affected largely by the same things.
Gaining a broader perspective
Thanks to my experiences in England and Sweden, and my time with professional teams in Germany [and later visiting Buenos Aires], I’ve had the fortune to work with volleyball people from many different countries and cultures. In England alone I coached players from about 25 different nations.
Perhaps thanks to my background in the financial markets, I probably have a broader interest and observation of world events than most. Granted, it’s not what it used to be. Still, I am more likely to watch Sky News (global) than CNN (US-centric).
A greater sense of empathy
Even with that broader global awareness, though, events in distant countries didn’t used to have much of a personal feeling about them. That’s no longer the case.
- For most of three years I lived in the UK and coached UK players.
- I coached French players and had two different French housements while I lived in England.
- I coached Turkish players
- In Sweden there have been a number of issue with migrants. Even before I lived there to coach Svedala, I coached two Swedish players. We have also interviewed two Swedish coaches for Volleyball Coaching Wizards.
- I have not coached any Belgians, but two of the coaches we interviewed for the Wizards project are from Belgium.
- At this writing I coach about 2 hours from Dallas.
- Back in 2001 I was at Brown during 9/11. One of our players then was from Long Island, and had a parent who worked in NYC.
Of course not everything is a negative. There were plenty of positive things along the way. Talking with players after I visited their homeland is one example which stands out in my mind.
Either way, links like that can’t help but increase cultural awareness. I have talked before about my feeling that working with players from so many different volleyball backgrounds – and with many for whom English is not their first language – has had a very positive influence of my ability to communicate. I think the cultural exposure is a positive as well. That’s both as a coach and as a human being. Even if it brings considerable sadness at times
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