Love and India! - James Baird

IMG_0805 IMG_0817 IMG_0932 Today was a day to remember. I have been to India several times with groups, and over the past years I have pretty much seen it all; but today, India proved me wrong and showed me something new. Right now, Chamba has a holiday called Minjer going on and the town has been extra crowded. We were asked to participate in the festivities and field a soccer team to play in a friendly exhibition in the middle of the town. I figured they would supply a mediocre coed team and a few people would watch and it wouldn't be a big deal. Well…It was a big deal! Our rag tag team of YMAD kids in sneakers and our team softball jerseys marched on the field In front of thousands of Indians. Many of our players had never played a game of soccer in their lives and we maybe had six players who were fairly experienced. Our competition was a decent local club team with a few girls they drove in from Shimla to create a coed team. We didn't win but it was an experience of a lifetime. We were in the Himalayas in the middle of this fair, Hindi music blasting, cows and dogs walking on the field during the game, and Spencer Ford--our coach and MVP who was frantically taught everyone the rules of soccer throughout the whole game. This was an experience I will never forget. I was so proud of my team and how amazing they were! Almost everyone on our team played in the game and laughed the entire time. We were interviewed and put on the local Chamba news. And at the end of the game we rushed off the field to get home because thousands were storming us. On the way out I looked back and saw Spencer Ford signing autographs for people. He then put his arm around our translator and friend, Vinayak, who was recently in a terrible car crash and helped him walk up the hill back to our home. It's days like this that I am grateful for the people who surround my life. I am so blessed to have the most amazing team in the world! Every single person on our expedition team is amazing, and I am so proud and grateful to call them my friends and love them with all my heart!