They take IWD seriously here in Cameroon, with a march, special events and a day off work. Many of the women (and some men) have purchased a special fabric from which they have made customised outfits to honour the day.
So we were very focussed on equality in cricket as we went to the schools today. Part of the message is to get girls and boys to play together and break down gender stereotypes, and of course empower girls so that they can have more say in their relationships. And the girls are amazing – they can sock it just as well as the boys. One of our best moments today was when the 14-yr-old male opening bowler banged one in to his female classmate only to be knocked for six. He wasn’t expecting that.
One of the most impressive local coaches here is Sandrine who has been establishing a local team of teenagers despite the complete lack of facilities. She is a strong role model spreading both the love of cricket but also the vital health messages that CWB promote.
But it isn’t just the women that matter. Today we went back to Gilbert’s school, and coached around 300 children from the age of 12 up. For him to encourage the boys to view the girls as equals is just as important. Gilbert has taken the messages on board and takes charge of activities in our carousel now. He is very keen to continue the messages and the cricket when we leave. He also shares the children’s love of our budding actor Carlos.
The day finished with a casual game between the CWB team and the local coaches (well it is never really that casual against the super competitive Cameroonians). We went back to use the playground after school had finished at Sandrine’s school, and a few local kids who were hanging about joined in. One small lad –Djeuta who was 10 years old – had participated with us in the morning and loved bowling, and it showed. He joined Team UK and was very economical against adults who weren’t reigning it in. He was a keen batsman too, although it did mean a run out for poor Jess who couldn’t keep up. Team UK also recruited Louis, a teenage footballer, who had never played cricket before. When he arrived at the crease he didn’t know which way to hold the bat. By the time he finished he was smashing Abega, our Cameroonian international, over the top of the school roof. A future national star?
After being caught behind Djeuta was practicing his bowling with a pebble against the wall.
Andy needs practice so went to learn from Djeuta who managed to get Andy to abstain from bending his arm! We left Djeuta with a single tennis ball, his delight showing all over his face. As we left Djeuta was playing with his mates, improvising with a discarded plank of wood as a bat. We all left with a very good feeling.
Blog by Andy and Jess