Mali is truly a special country. We all felt it from the moment we arrived in Bamako, a dusty and hot city, teeming with people, smiling and happy faces everywhere you look. 

Before camps got underway, we experienced a bit of Malian culture. Off to the side of busy street, we saw a group of women, young and old, surrounded by basins, stacked one on top of each other. They were dipping garments in and out of the various basins, fast as can be. No one was more engaged in the experience than Masai, who jumped right into the middle of things. It was the perfect example of living life by embracing the moment.

And then, on day two, the camps got underway. The kids had a talent level, hunger for the game, and appetite to grow that was off the charts. They were completely locked into the coaches, soaking up every last drop of wisdom. And when faced with a new drill or unfamiliar scheme? No big deal, it just motivated them that much more. And all these qualities were most apparent in the girls, who come from a lineage of excellence, having won six U-16 African Championships since 2009. 

But the best part of the entire camp was how much fun everyone had. When the coaches would use the odd word in the local language of Bambara, man, did the campers ever love that! It led to so much fun and joking between everyone, and was another example of living life by embracing the moment.