Names are powerful. Children learn to identify with their names at a very early age. They love to be called names that they perceive to be trendy, good, and stylish. We have had to refer to the same child with at least three different names as they grow in the program. To all children it is important that you address them in the correct way in front of their peers. We have used names in our interaction with children to achieve different goals. Names have been a means and an end.
One of the drives to using names is to ensure we have a fun filled session as we learn tennis. So in our introduction session with one of the schools, our life skill topic was about healthy eating. Every child mentioned the food they like and we adopted these as their names. This made marking the register so much fun. We had ‘Omena’, ‘Madondo’, ‘Chapo’, ‘Chips’, ‘mafuta ya chips’ (to differentiate from chips), ‘githeri’, ‘mchele’, ‘maharage’e.t.c .They loved it and it made it easy for us to know who is absent, and make corrections as we learn the basic steps. All the coach had to say is ``saidia githeri hapo, vile ameshika racquet atamwaga githeri yote’’ the kids would laugh and help. We never had a dull session and we still use our names.
Children learn from doing, they at times assume roles and sometime are given roles to play. This is how we came to give some names to our children. When we end our sessions at the community court we often have some children who just do not want to leave the court and go home. Otieno would go round telling them that the coach has said it is time to go home and make sure they are on their way. He is not old as you may assume he is in nursery school about 6 years. Every time we went to the court he is among the first children to come in and reports of what happened at the court in our absence. This is how he got his name ‘Soja wa coach’.
Head boy on the other hand loved collecting all the rackets and balls when session is over and ensuring they are well placed in the store. He will ensure everyone has returned their racket and all balls are in the basket. Our head boy assumes this role even without being told.
‘Ochi makamasi’ got his name because he always has a dirty nose. He is a big boy old enough to clean his nose but he does not. We have done live skills sessions on washing my face and cleaning my nose but this did not bring about change with Ochi. So we adopted this name for him so that he realizes and makes an effort to do something. He did not like the name and this made him check his nose every time he is coming to the court. This has improved and we do not use the name as often anymore. His nose is clean nowadays.
‘Baba yao’ got this name because he marks the register for the Squad and has to know all who are absent. ‘Mama yao’ serves porridge to the team so she ensures all have eaten. ‘Firstborn’ does cleaning of the cups. The names help the children remember their roles and responsibilities. As coaches we also get names in line with our inter action with the children, the oldest being ‘Princi’. Sometimes we are referred to by the name of their favorites coach.