Connection between theater and youthful soccer players

Wonka stages establish connection between theater and youthful soccer players in Brainport region - 25 oktober 2021

Youth soccer players are not really a group that comes to mind when you think of the regular theatergoer. So getting this group to connect with theater is exciting and challenging at the same time. The Wonka venues in Veldhoven (Schalm), Valkenswaard (Hofnar), Helmond (Speelhuis) and Eindhoven (Parktheater) have worked together with Corpo Máquina Society to bring this about in recent months. With project Warriors Foot. With freestyle soccer and movement on stage. The theaters opened their doors wide and let existing conventions go. And that resulted in more than they could have dreamed of! 

Director Sjoert Bossers (Schalm) says: "At first we had no idea what was going to happen. I spoke to the organization; they were also searching. The question was how do you make the connection in the first place so that you can invite them to the theater afterwards. The answer: just go to the target group. So we went on an impromptu trip to the local soccer field where many young people play soccer. That turned out to be a good idea. Very quickly app groups of about 40 people were formed. And they really came to the theater for the workshop and presentation with freestyle footballer Nasser El Jackson. And you're talking about young people, who have never set foot over the threshold here. 

It is important to let go of existing theater conventions. You have to proverbially move with a group like this, which is new to us. For example, they were always late. Normally that's not 'allowed' in a theater. Now we let it go. When they arrived, we literally gave them the theater, the stage. To free-style and play panna. It's about gaining trust, knowing how to crack the code. And that worked. 

On the day of the presentation in our theater, many local organizations were present. Think aldermen, police and youth workers from Cordaad Welzijn. They watched and just about fell off their chairs with enthusiasm. They saw boys on stage, who in other circumstances would sometimes be a big problem group for the municipality. Now these were engaged kids, standing on a stage. It started with a boy doing tricks. And then one by one, in a sort of arena setting, the boys "from the square" came on stage. All of them come on and off in their own way. Also the biggest 'rascals' of Veldhoven. 

Not a single parent was there. We doubt whether the footballers have told it at all. But the mutual bond and how they experienced it, was sublime. Every time they took the stage and did their thing. Really special." 

The workshops and presentations in the various theaters are also a prelude to the theater production Bolistas, which can be seen this month at the Parktheater. 

The Wonka Podia can carry out these projects partly due to the financial impulse from the Regiodeal. This makes the Wonka Podia a wonderful example of how social connections can be made in the region through the use of culture and art.