“You are not visitors – you are our family”
We got a good night’s sleep after a tiring weekend of travelling and enjoyed a breakfast of beef liver (not all of us I have to say!) and eggs, beans and toast before the day’s events. We then went over our drills for the day ahead and talked over how we would plan out the sessions and how we would build in our ABC (Abstain, Be faithful, wear a Condom) messages. While we waited for our lifts we played a bit of tennis-ball football with Nikita, one of the teacher’s children. Cal showed off his ‘stepovers’ while Jethro amused himself by seeing how high he could through the ball in the air. He maintains he’s ‘lost his arm’ but the group remain sceptical of his self-deprication…
The location for our first day of coaching was the ‘Gamodubu Childcare Trust’, a children’s school about an hours drive from the hotel. Botswana’s roads are well constructed and it’s drivers are slow and cautious (due both to a 1000 pula spot-fine for speeding as well as the usual ‘relaxed’ approach of Africans in general). The journey might have taken us 30 minutes with an English driver but it was a decent way to soak in some of Africa, especially when we took a detour on a dirt track through some of the local villages. Heading west out of Gaborone towards the Kalahari desert we talked to our drivers, Shirley and Lucky, and learnt that the trust had a high proportion of children with HIV/AIDS (50% or more) as well as a bit more about Botswana – one stark fact I heard was that there hadn’t been a drop of rain since the start of December 2013. Dry riverbeds, dying plants and an outstanding water bill of 21,000 pula (£1500 approximately) reinforced the dire need for water in this part of the world. They talk frankly about a lot of the troubles they have, and don’t shy away from the need for help, taking us on a tour of their facilities and telling us how badly they are struggling to get clean water and maintain a good level of hygiene.
The children there were in a great mood though as we embarked on our first coaching session, and the high-fives were in abundance as Graham kicked us off with a warm-up. Ian and Jethro did the fielding session, Chris and I did the bowling, David and “Miss B” (Bronwen!) taught the batting and Scott and Graham played a few cricket-games incorporating a bit of everything. Other than a few boisterous lads in one of the groups, the kids were well-behaved on the whole and showed enthusiasm for each drill. There were a few ‘chuckers’ in our bowling group but there were a lot of smiling faces as everyone had good fun and hopefully some of the messages we were putting across have stuck. There were only around 60-70 children at the trust (we expect a lot more in the schools we visit later in the week) but it was a good number to get us started and at dinner everyone agreed that we handled the day well.
The children and teachers sang us a nice hymn as we finished the afternoon in the hall, and we made sure every child had a CWB wristband before we left. We also donated some equipment that will hopefully serve the Gamodubu Trust well for years to come, and I would like to think the first experience of cricket for many of these children was a happy one. All they have to remember is me getting hit in the head with a tennis ball and a smile is sure to return to their faces!
Gaffe of the day goes to the waiter in the Gaborone Sun, who told Scott that he would have ‘no problem’ remembering 8 dinner-orders without a notepad, before accidentally bringing Scott a chicken burger instead of a chicken tortilla!