Sports have been an important aspect for Colegio Menor. Scott Hibbard was director of the school some years ago and is now. This, I believe is important to know his perspective about the sport at Menor. He has already seen Colegio Menor’s spirit and it is interesting to know a little more about his plans for this new school year.
As you already know, the school has a variety of competitive sports. Do you have any plans to improve them?
The plan is to make the ones that we already have more competitive. The soccer program is strong right now, but the others sports are not as great. This means getting kids excited about sports and more involved at a younger age so that when they get up to 8th grade, or 9th grade they will still play the sport. I think we have a pretty wide range of activities, but we are good in soccer but perhaps not that great in other sports. The gymnastics program for example, is growing a lot as well; I just saw the registration list and many have signed up for it.
Are you planning to open other sport activities in school?
This year there is a flag football club we are offering to primary and secondary. We also have a teacher who would like to start flag rugby, and so we are looking at that possibility. We have coaches who know the sport, but part of that problem is that they are foreign, so they come and are passionate about the sport, get kids interested in them, but then leave so, we try to look for someone locally that can replace them, but we can’t find them so easily. I’m open to anything. We opened yoga in primary and secondary, and there are enough to do three groups of kids to have classes.
As you know, Juegos Internos have been a part of our tradition and most of the students think that its essence has faded. Do you plan to change that?
I don’t have enough information to comment on that yet. I’ve heard other students mention the same thing, but I don’t know enough about how it’s been run now in order to look for changes. This year, Family Day is coming in October and the plan Andrew has is to continue with the program as it is. It’s my first year back, so it will give me a chance to see what is working and what not and then seek changes with input from students. These events are for you, not for us, so they need to be attractive for you guys.
Children in general have very competitive spirits or sports and as you said before, some sports are not as good as soccer. So what are your plans to encourage this?
Generally at the primary level, you want to keep kids building their skills, but at the same time they are not going to stay in the sport if there aren’t games and competitions, so I think that at the primary level, we need to look for more opportunities for kids to play in “campeonatos amistosos” for example. The kids get excited if they know they are going to have a game. If there aren’t competitions at the primary level or not many, the kids will lose interest and they will start to play sports outside of school or in other clubs.
What are your plans to let Colegio Menor students play sports internationally?
There are two things that get in our way. One is El Ministerio, which last year said that school groups could not travel out of the country. Over the summer, they changed that and said yes and now they just changed it again, saying no. So that is one of the limitations we have. If there are events in the summer or during February vacation, it’s a little bit easier to manage, but one of the risks we always face is that. Let’s say we go and do an excellent job in a tournament, we need to be quiet about it because we could get in trouble. The school could close because we are not following the “Reglamento de la Ley de Educacion”. The other one is that even though most families could afford to send their kids to events, some cant, so you have that factor of money and expenses. In Juegos Internos there is a school coming from Mexico City to play soccer in “Copa Amistad” and maybe another from the Dominican Republic. These are schools that are traveling internationally to participate in sports and I would like you to have the same opportunity, but now it is difficult because we may get in trouble.
You said that one limitation is about money since some people can’t afford that. Do you think Colegio Menor could manage to give some economic support for the teams?
Yes. Last year for example, there was an art field trip for seniors. The school paid for the expenses for the two teachers instead of passing that on to students. But if it is a competitive team yeah, we need to put our money there to support the team.
Do you believe sports help to unite Colegio Menor as a community?
Yes, but I think we have a long way to go because I don’t think there is an interest beyond the team. I think the teams are passionate about their sport and are really into it. Their parents are supporting them, but I don’t think that if sub 18 “varones” is going to play a game, the rest of students will be interested in going. I don’t think that school pride is that strong yet.
Do you have plans to change that?
I don’t have an idea or magic wand to change that, but I think it is something we need to discuss with students and with other community members to change that without being that “gringo” about it. You know, this is Ecuador and most of our students are latinos and you know, what I did in high school 40 years ago is something you don’t really care about. So we need to figure out what to do it here.
You have been able to visit other schools in the US. Did you see a difference in regard to school spirit in comparison with the school spirit al Colegio Menor?
Yes. Part of it also is that in schools in the US, you have seasons and some sports are common in particular months, so there is really one sport to concentrate on at the time and it is a social thing. It’s a pride in their school and city. Here, we all come from all over the place. However, we can still talk about it and find ways to change that.
Students have very different perspectives about sports and so does Scott. After the interview with the director, we are able to conclude that no matter the age nor experience, sports are extremely important for the school and we will find ways to improve them every year.