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!
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)