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This article was published 22/6/2015 (2565 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Students in the River East-Transcona School Division’s German bilingual program got their own taste of the FIFA World Cup action last week.
Students in Grades 3 through 6 of the bilingual program from Donwood School (400 Donwood Dr.), Princess Margaret School (367 Hawthorne Ave.), and Chief Peguis Junior High (1400 Rothesay St.) spent some time between June 15 and 19 learning some soccer fundamentals while also practising their German.
"The response has been very good," said Ulla In der Stroth, German language education support teacher for RETSD. "They all get so pumped."
The weeklong German Soccer Adventure Camp was sponsored the German government’s Central Agency for Schools Abroad in conjunction with Auf Ballhöhe, an organization that promotes German culture through soccer.
"Most kids are interested in soccer (right now)," In der Stroth said. "So they have something they can relate to the language, to actually understand."
In der Stroth, who receives funding from the Central Agency for Schools Abroad to provide German language programming to the RETSD, initially contacted the German women’s soccer team to see if a player or two would be free to visit the bilingual program while in town for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. While the German players were too busy, the team put In der Stroth in touch with Auf Ballhöhe.
"It went from there," she said. While setting up the camp, it happened that Walter Stechel, German Consul General, was in Winnipeg on June 15. While in town, Stechel paid a visit to Donwood School to launch the soccer camp.
"It was great that they gave the possibility to the schools that we can come here. The kids, they like it," said Oliver Fiest, a visiting soccer coach with Auf Ballhöhe. The volunteer organization runs similar camps in South Africa, Namibia and the U.S. They recently ran their first camp in Japan. With the completion of this week’s German Soccer Adventure Camp, they can add Canada to the list.
"This is our first time in Canada," Fiest said. "We are proud to be here in Winnipeg. It is really cool, really fun."
Over the course of the week, Fiest ran groups of kids from Grades 3 to 6 through basic soccer drills, culminating in friendly matches at the end of each session. Between drills, Fiest brings the kids together to teach them some basics about German geography and culture.
"Of course we cannot teach people in one week to be a professional soccer player, or to speak fluent German," Fiest said. "But maybe they get interested in Germany and they are going to visit it, or if they have a choice to learn a language they will choose German."
River East-Transcona School Division’s German bilingual program is a unique program, not only in Winnipeg but in Canada. While Toronto and Edmonton each have language consultants on hand, In der Stroth said she is the "only person like me in Canada who is in the classroom all the time."
"It’s something pretty special for Winnipeg," she said.
Sheldon Birnie is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at email@example.com Call him at 204-697-7112