Country Manager. What’s it all about?

I can’t quite pinpoint the moment I decided to dedicate a large portion of my spare time to CWB but,  shortly after my return from Rwanda where I joined a trip as a first time Volunteer in March 2013, I started to notice that I spent more and more time emailing people in Africa and less time undertaking pointless tasks like working.

Like many others, I found my two weeks with CWB a revelation and made friendships that will last a lifetime. I am a rubbish cricketer and, arguably, a similar standard coach! Yet, it didn’t matter. Day-in, day-out I coached Hundreds of kids who wanted to play Cricket for the sheer enjoyment of it. That’s my kind of coaching.

Fast forward 18 months and a further CWB trip to Kenya. Having badgered all and sundry at CWB to stay involved, I find myself as Kenya Country Manager, planning a trip for 8 volunteers in 5 months time. No pressure!

gary2I quickly realised that we are pushing at an open door. The Kenya Cricket Association, our local ambassador Nicholas, local coaches George, Benjamin, Peter and Daniel, schools, orphanages etc were literally begging for a visit. The hardest part of trip planning is accommodating all.

I am now well used to working with our ambassadors, Cricket Kenya and other local coaches to arrange transport, hotels, schools to teach in and, most importantly, contacts within local health organisations to provide HIV testing , counselling and treatment facilities during our projects.

I have now realised that ensuring volunteers have a great two week project is easy. Nicholas, our ambassador will see to that with little input from me. A key part of my role therefore is what we do when CWB are not in country. I try to maintain a regular dialogue with Cricket Kenya, Nicholas, HIV medical professionals in our project areas, as well as the next group of volunteers scheduled to visit Kenya. I consider the key part of my role is to ensure that every trip improves on the last in terms of impact. At the end of every trip, every volunteer has some kind of amazing story of the impact they have had. Each time, it makes me immensely proud of the small role I played.

The Country manager role is a joy if I am honest. Trip planning is a part of the role that provides huge satisfaction. Seeing feedback from first time volunteers never fails to raise a smile. From there, the world is your oyster as to how you assist in the development of cricket within a country. Whilst I am incredibly proud of the HIV and FGM awareness work we do in Kenya, our partnerships and impact on a cricket basis also cannot be overlooked.

In Kenya, roughly half of the under 18’s girls team and a similar number of of the boys team of the same age had never played cricket before meeting CWB and started their career through one of our two week projects.

If the paragraph above doesn’t make you think you can make a difference, nothing will!

Gary Shankland
Kenya Country Manager


Sara Begg on CWB’s Coach Education model

Coach Education is one of the cornerstones of Cricket Without Boundaries projects – it is what helps ensure cricket, and the delivery of HIV/AIDS health messages through cricket, continues to be sustained after a project has been completed.

Currently, Coach Education on project typically takes two forms. The first is formal training of teachers and others in the community as coaches – introducing them to the basics of the game and the integration of the ABC T and S messages. The second is the more informal up-skilling and development of CWB ambassadors and other coaches from the various national cricket associations.

Whenever Cricket Without Boundaries delivers formal Coach Education we are focusing on two key areas:

22300569106_d89cf11d85_zHow to coach
The structure of sports coaching is often quite alien to teachers used to operating in classrooms with large numbers of students, where the majority of learning is delivered through “chalk and talk” lecturing. One of our biggest challenges is asking teachers to step out of their comfort zone by keeping talking to a minimum and doing to a maximum! We use the coaching method to achieve this, introducing one coaching point at a time and ensuring players get lots of goes.

What to coach
Particularly when delivering cricket in a town for the first time we have to ensure that this includes not just the individual cricket specific skills, but also how they fit into a game. Throughout this process teachers must be trained in the integration of HIV/AIDS health messages, including empowering teachers to identify fresh opportunities to use the messages.

22338564231_74becac164_z2016 sees a rejuvenation of Cricket Without Boundaries Coach Education delivery. This has focused on three key areas:

1. Updating resources to meet the needs of coaches in country, as well as our volunteers
2. Creation of a comprehensive Cricket Without Boundaries coaching pathway that supports the development of coaches at all levels in country
3. Standardisation of delivery of Coach Education across all countries, while still allowing for necessary flexibility

Updated Resources
Spring 2016 projects will be the first to use the new Cricket Without Boundaries specific coaching cards. The new cards feature a standardised format that includes illustrative images, coaching points, and clear direction on the integration of ABC & T messages. They can be downloaded here:

As the Internet becomes increasingly accessible in-country – through the use of smart phones and mobile Internet – the resource is now also available online, at – allowing coaches to gain access to the latest information and ideas as resources are updated and new content added.

Coach-Pathway-e1453663536659CWB Coaching Pathway

The new CWB Coaching Pathway features four levels of delivery:

CWB Introduction to Cricket
An introduction to the game of cricket, giving coaches the skills to teach very simple batting, bowling, fielding and games. Introduces the coaching method and the integration of HIV/AIDS messages. 4-6 hours long

This course is not assessed, and is designed to give coaches a taste of cricket and cricket coaching.

The long-term ambition would be for this course to be delivered by CWB ambassadors in advance of CWB projects, which would allow greater targeted Coach Education delivery (Levels A and B, below) on project.

21705026264_3085c91769_zLevel A – Basics of Cricket

A basic coaching course that gives coaches the knowledge and understanding to run safe sessions that will develop player’s cricket specific skills so they can play
a simple game of pairs cricket. 8-10 hours long

This course has a simple competency assessment, focusing primarily on coach understanding of the coaching method, safety, and the use of ABC & T.

Beyond Level A

The long-term aim is to deliver ICC-accredited courses that equate to “Level 2” and above – with this initially taking the form of pre-written courses by ICC but ultimately leading to the development of CWB specific Level B and C courses.

22327980305_fabe74985b_zStandardisation of Delivery

New tutor notes have been produced to allow ECB tutors and experienced project tutors to deliver standardised course content. This should mean that no matter who goes to deliver the Coach Education, candidates should have similar experiences, coming away with the same key learning.

In the long term this will allow swifter progression of coaches up the Cricket Without Boundaries coaching pathway and will tackle past problems of excessive repetition of content, which was particularly relevant in towns where delivery has been taking place for several years.

In conclusion…

We hope that these changes will help drive the continual development of cricket in our five countries. By offering an increasingly joined-up approach we will continue to raise the profile of cricket in the areas we work in, meaning more young people regularly playing the sport while shouting about the importance of Abstaining, Being Faithful and Protecting themselves – even when we aren’t there to shout along with them!

Sara Begg
CWB Tutor


International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation

fgm2In February 2015 I met Nashipai. A beautiful 14 year old Kenyan girl. Shy and humble she took my hand and with great pride showed me her home. Nestled in the corner was a cot and in it a five month old child. At the age of 12 Nashipai was cut; her genitals removed in a rite of passage which would see her become a woman in the eyes of her community. By 13 she was married to an abusive older man in his 50’s; no longer attending school; this was now her life. Whilst she was pregnant she was beaten so badly she feared for her life and that of her unborn child. Summoning every ounce of courage she possessed she fled to a rescue centre and began the process of rebuilding her life and raising her daughter.

Nashipai’s story is not unusual. Worldwide an estimated 140 million women and girls are living with the consequences of FGM and 3 million are at risk each year.

In Kenya the latest data shows that nationally around 27% of girls and women aged between 15-49 have had FGM (2008). This has reduced from 37% in 1998. There are significant variations within the country and some ethnic groups have very high rates of practice, whilst others do not carry out the procedure at all. Amongst the Maasai, FGM is still widely practiced and the prevalence is at 73%.

In February 2015 I also met Nancy. Also 14 her life was vastly different to that of Nashipais’. Nancy was the first woman in her family to not undergo FGM.
With the help and support of her family she did not face the barbaric procedure and is now enjoying gaining an education and thriving in school, and dreams of becoming a Doctor.

fgm1Last year following a year of planning and joining up with 28 Too Many, and the Maasai Cricket Warriors I was part of the team which delivered the first ever CWB anti-FGM project. We thought this project was a pilot, and today we are delighted to announce that CWB is firmly committed reach many more people and use the medium of Cricket to educate on and eradicate this abusive practice.

As FGM Programme Lead I am excited about the next few months as we launch a new programme of work both in Kenya and in the UK. In June we will travel once again to Kenya, working in partnership with the Massaii Warriors and 28 Too Many, we aim to deliver our cricket programme to 2000 young people and adults.

In addition to this CWB will launch a pilot UK programme. Adopting a multi-agency approach, CWB plans to engage girls in communities affected by FGM , teach them cricket skills and work to eradicate this practice. Current figures suggest that over 60,000 girls in the UK aged 10-14 were born to mothers who had undergone FGM. Furthermore there are approximately 130,000 women living in Britain who have undergone FGM.

Today sees us Celebrate International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. Spare a thought today for Nashipai and Nancy and the millions of other young women who are at risk of this abusive practice and show your solidarity by supporting CWB.

For more information on our FGM work please contact

To make a donation to our FGM work please visit:

Hannah Weaver
FGM Programme Lead

This Girl Can – Jules’ story


If you speak to people in this country about their experiences of playing sport when they were younger, you come across a division. There are those who recall horror stories of being made to do cross country running on cold, wet Wednesday afternoons by sadistic coaches, bellowing at them to ‘keep moving’ as they hunker down under a large umbrella and lots of thermal clothing. Then you encounter the enthusiastic sporty types who played lots of different sports for their county and were wonderfully supported by their coaches. What about those who do not fit into either of those categories?

When I recall ‘undertaking’ sport at school, I remember laying out a multitude of coloured Asthma inhalers on a table, which twenty five years ago were little coaster size boxes,  which when lined up on a white table looked like an artistic impression of a Dulux colour chart. Coaches saw a child running around who would stop, gasp for air, and amble slowly over to the table to get an inhaler, miss the rest of the session recovering and then ask what was the matter?  Few coaches understood that it was not mind preventing you from taking part in sport, it was the lungs. Eventually being made, by the coach, to take the positions in team sports that involved the least running around to make up the numbers, just made playing sport boring and uninspiring.


Thing is I grew up in a sports loving household. It tests not only your physicality but also your mind. It drives and encourages the extremes of human emotion. Most of all it looks like great fun to be actively involved in. In reality, it appeared to be an exclusive fun for those who were good at it. It was not until my mid twenties, that going to the gym appeared to be a good idea and there were no boundaries set for what I could do. It made me fitter and improved my asthma.

It was by chance that I had the opportunity to experience what it was like to be properly involved in a team sport, following an impromptu call to take part in a game of cricket with a group of young lads in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. They did not care about health or ability of their team. All they wanted to do was to play and have people to play with. We celebrated wickets together, counted runs loudly when batting and gave each-other encouragement in the field. It was nice to be finally included in a team sport. These lads, I found out afterwards, were the main breadwinners for their family after their father and older brothers had either disappeared or died during the civil war. None of them were older than twenty. They all played cricket together one afternoon a week to have fun and enjoy themselves. It was an honour to play alongside them.

Not long after this, I saw the advert for Cricket Without Boundaries, seeking volunteers to coach cricket in various African countries, where they would use sports coaching to help make children aware of how to protect themselves against HIV. Now I was a.) Not a coach, b.) Couldn’t play cricket c.) Had limited knowledge of HIV.  However, that experience in Jaffna, led me to apply and I was offered a place to be part of a volunteer coaching team out to Rwanda.

picture 1

Seeing the slight flaw in this plan, I joined a ladies cricket team who had two fantastic lead female coaches who were not in the least bit fazed by someone’s health, fitness or ability – they just wanted people to be involved. This spirit has been mirrored by fellow volunteers who I have coached cricket with, as part of various Cricket Without Boundaries projects to Rwanda, Kenya and Cameroon. I have since qualified as a cricket coach so that I can share with children, in this country and abroad, just how great it is to take part in physical activity and most importantly of all that sport is available for everybody – as long as they have the chance.

The Magic of Africa – by Liam Burnell


It may sound cliché, but getting involved with CWB changed my life. From the people I have met, to the experiences I have been graced with, they have shaped my outlook on life, my cricket coaching, and forged friendships for life.

I first got involved with CWB back in 2013 – a naïve 18 year old, looking for a life changing experience. How was I going to do this? Well, I thought coaching cricket in Africa may be a good start, and after a quick google, my CWB journey began. So, where would this journey take me? First stop Rwanda, and after reassuring many people (including my mum) that this was now a safe country, despite its still recent history, I left the UK in a trip that would change my life.

Since that moment, I’ve experienced 3 very different cultures, despite all being blessed with the hot, sweaty (and very dusty) climates that Africa offers:

Rwanda: My first experience of Africa was one to remember, and I loved every minute! The people in Rwanda were incredible, and the coaching experiences changed my style of coaching for the better. The enthusiasm you are greeted with each session is refreshing, and the fact a ‘Muzungu’ is present seems to bring cheer to everyone! I found out how beautiful Rwanda was as a country,  learned a lot about African timing, and also found my long lost Yorkshire dad. I was hooked, and I wouldn’t be away for long…

Cameroon: Only 6 months after departing from Rwanda, I found myself back on an aeroplane to the country made famous by Roger Milla’s magic hips. My French phrase book was dusted off, and bought back memories of cold winter mornings sat in a French class, although ‘il fait chaud’ was now much more applicable! Cameroon was something else. The country conveyed a ceremonial feeling, particularly when we were invited to the foreign ministers commonwealth gala (in which we danced him out the room), and played the Cameroon national side (after standing in line for their national anthem!). From ABCs on the beaches of Beau, to the side of a handball court meeting Roger Milla, Cameroon was something else. However, one thing didn’t change – the kids enthusiasm to learn, compete in sports and learn how to better themselves in terms of health education. We even got a nun playing at Roger Milla’s orphanage, a photo which has since gone viral!

Cricket nun

Botswana: A year down the line from Cameroon, I was back again, this time in the southern part of the continent. This trip was very different for me, with big numbers less common, however the importance of HIV/AIDS messaging was clear, with the prevalence rate in Botswana well above those of Cameroon and Rwanda (around 25%). This time, in charge of HIV/AIDS monitoring, I had the focus to get particular messages across, a task which was well supported by the rest of my team. We even got the chance to play under lights! Botswana was one country I saw so much potential in, and is one place I am desperate to return to!

From these three very different experience, I have grown as an individual. I look back from time to time and reminisce about these amazing opportunities and the friendships I’ve made.

I feel as though a part of me has a connection with each country I have visited, and I like to think a part of me has made its impact on the lives of those children I had the chance to work with.


My CWB experience has changed me, my outlook on life, the way I coach, the friendships I have and my knowledge of issues facing those within the African continent. Many view Africa as a massive dust bowl, to me, I see it as a magical place, full of the sound of running feet, thousands of beaming smiles and a surprise around every corner. For this, I have CWB to thank.

Until next time, Liam (aka. Chesney/Biebs/1D)

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