by Mick

Finally, A Sleep In!!

Part I.

After a massive week in Gabs, and a day of travel the day prior, the gang enjoyed a lovely relaxing Sunday where batteries could be well and truly recharged.

I (Mick) managed to sleep in as late as 7.30!! The other “Cottage Boys” (Adam and Jono) surfaced at around 10.30, and the Peasants down the way appeared in dribs and drabs, Smurf unsighted until 2pm!!

Much of the day was spent washing filthy CWB kit (or trying to), reading books, sorting kit, writing blogs, teasing Michael McIntyre (which has become a favourite pastime) and lounging by the pool, or in the pool; Jono even went exceedingly close to getting his hair wet but again letdown occurred …

The evening was spent by the Braai, discussing life and devouring Pasta and St Louis beers, to add to the Cottage Wall of Beer!!

In summary, we enjoyed a very nice day, spent getting to know each other (when eventually each of us awoke), and resting up before what was/is to be a huge week ahead in Francistown.

Part II.

As Project Leader I thought it necessary at the midway stage to reflect on what has been a huge week. During the first week we managed to “Coach” around 80-90 teachers and 700 children (give or take). Of those 80-90 teachers, almost all of them now have an ICC Introduction to Cricket Certificate and skills to take back to their respective schools (around 30-35 schools!) to ensure cricket is included within the curriculum of each of these schools, something that I feel is very important.

I’d like to take this opportunity, and in this forum to commend the efforts of the CWB volunteers, who have worked very hard during the past week, sometimes on very trying circumstances. Day 1 started with a very manageable 60 children, certainly a very easy quantity when 9 coaches are available. However Day 3 saw upwards of 200 children and slightly overwhelmed volunteers. Their resilience and ability to be flexible really impressed me, and now that reality has set in (big numbers in the remaining sessions through the week) each of the volunteers are a lot more confident, and a lot more able when it comes to working with big groups.

At another level I think it would be fit if I write a few things about each of the volunteers, and what they have brought to the table throughout the week, to fill loved ones, family, friends etc in on how their respective “volunteer” has been getting by in Botswana… Please enjoy the banter…

Starting with me…

As a first time Project Leader, on my second trip with CWB (Kenya, April 2010), I think I have so far enthused the group, and motivated them with regard to their coaching, and I have been very lucky to have a receptive group of volunteers who want to improve their own skills, and appreciate support and feedback to achieve this. The cohesiveness of the group has been impressive, especially for a group who literally didn’t know anything about each other until we met at the airport. Everyone has played their part and that has made my job so much easier. I have been impressed with the low level of abuse I’ve received about being Australian/”Convict”; I feared I would hear quite a lot about the Ashes, but not to be (touch wood).

Adam AKA “Mary Poppins”. Our resident ECB tutor, belcher and sneezer has been doing a sterling job facilitating the coaching sessions, appropriately planning each of the sessions to the abilities of the participants whilst challenging each of us to develop our own coaching skills. Adam’s “handbag” has been the subject of many conversations; it appears to contain any and everything anyone would ever need whilst basically living life. Jono has been particularly impressed with the fly swatter Mary whipped out of his man bag… He is also a trained “masseuse” and so those skills have certainly been taken advantage of!!

Claire. Essex. Enough said.

Rich AKA “The Bankrupt Treasurer”. After arriving late (take away points for that), Rich has joined the group and hit the ground running, actively involving himself in each of the coaching sessions where it has been clear he has a wealth of experience working in cricket clubs and with children. If you require a music buff for a trivia night, Rich is your man, as we found out last night during our marathon music trivia night by the Braai!! Rich may need to work on his Treasurer skills, placing both the Whip and his own cash in a glasses case was destined for trouble, hence him filing for bankruptcy mid trip!!

Sam AKA “Bambi”. They say home is where the heart is. Although English, I am almost certainly positive a chunk of Sam’s heart is here in Botswana. Her unbridled passion for all things Botswana is clearly evident in everything she does, and as the least experienced in terms of her cricket coaching, she brings humility to the group and those motherly instincts, particularly when around the children. Her ability to stay upright is something that needs to be questioned, hence her nickname, due to separate incidents, one involving a fall off a bus, and another whilst doing some fielding practice that reminded all of us of a young deer attempting to stand for the very first time.

Ben AKA “Michael McIntyre”. Poor Ben has been tormented, particularly by Jono, with regard to his uncannily similar idiosyncrasies and looks to a certain British comedian. The comment by the waiter at the Gab Sun referring to him as Carlos Tevez kept us equally entertained for a couple of days too. Ben is an ICC Umpire, and it certainly has been interesting picking his brain with regard to the laws of the great game, who’d of thought the ICC had made 18 rule changes in the last year or so. Ben ran a session that ran relatively smoothly (apart from a slight slideshow tampering) at the BCA, touching on these and did some Q&A with the aspiring Botswana umpires. In all seriousness though, Ben has been very graceful in his acceptance of being Michael McIntyre, so much in fact he now refers to himself in 3rd person as that exact individual… Apparently he has a girlfriend too, but we wouldn’t know anything about that…

Jen AKA “(Insert Verb eg. Smiley, Sleepy, Incandescent) Smurf”. Sleepy Smurf (2pm wake up this morning) has been another valued member of Team Bostwana 2012, keeping us all very entertained during Chelsea FC Champions League Ties, particularly during a 1-0 victory over Barcelona. Sitting on the edge of your seat is particularly relevant to Edgy Smurf who rode each and every tackle, pass, and referee decision during that particular hard fought match. Questionnaire Smurf has been the questionnaire master, ensuring that the CWB surveys are taken care of each day, an integral part of why we are here, to gain knowledge as a charity about the way the African’s look at the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Around the Braai Energetic Smurf comes to life, she appears to like the heat, as Sunburnt Smurf can testify with her array of various car brand 1st degree burns brought on by the Botswana UV Rays. Best Friend Smurf is someone we hold very dearly to our hearts, with a job at Lords; I can guarantee we will all be hitting her up for tickets throughout the summer…

Rachael AKA “3 Words”. The woman of many words, the unassuming Rachael like many others came out of her shell around the Braai, bringing a great knowledge of musical trivia. The team were probably more impressed that Rachael spoke more than 3 words for once to be honest, and could actually converse and wasn’t a mute!! Rachael is a Level 2 Cricket Coach and we have seen someone who is more than willing to get her hands dirty, but more impressively develop her own skills, and seek guidance from some of the more experienced coaches. Rachael has become our resident HIV/AIDS Demo expert, stepping up to the plate and delivering the majority of these messages during each of our sessions. Hopefully, and with a week to go we can upgrade 3 Words to 4 Words, watch this space…

Jono AKA “Spud/The Northerner”. Jono is the “baby” of the group as the youngest. He is however then very able when it comes to relating to the school children. Jono communicates via a series of squeaky and often smelly rear end sounds. When he isn’t doing this he is usually ripping into McIntyre. Jokes aside Jono is the most experienced when it comes to CWB, and Africa, having travelled to Rwanda twice in 2011. He brings a youthful exuberance along with him, and an eagerness that CWB have clearly taken note of. I see him as a bit of a CWB Junkie, and I imagine Africa has not seen and smelt the last of him yet.

Back to Clare… Clare has been doing a great job as Country Manager, not just over the past week, but over the past 3 or 4 months leading up to the trip. As I was in Australia until February, things were slightly different in terms of the organisation and dynamics of the team and the trip and thankfully Clare stepped in and dealt with a lot more than was probably expected. If anyone can contact Clare and explain to her the differences between a Rhino and a Hippo we’d appreciate it, she’ll be somewhere in Essex in a week’s time. Clare has given us many blonde moments, and to go into more detail would take up a whole day, not that Clare would notice as she’d be off with the pixies in no time (attention span of 2 year old). Her best moment in my opinion was around the Braai on the first night, after explaining to me she’d never seen fire in her life, she asked “does wood burn for long?”

So one week down, and one to go, obviously many highlights, and as you can probably see, the team banter levels are at a healthy level too. Stay posted for my post trip update.

Mick (Project Leader).