Considering this was supposed to be a quiet day , we didn’t pass the armed guards back into our residence until about 730pm. Today was a very different experience for us as we had been invited to a “private” international Academy situated in Bastos , just around the corner, in the heart of the Consulate area. We were welcomed by Lawrence who is a teacher there as well as being the Cameroonian Cricket federation technical director. The school was a world away from the previous ones we had visited with small classes of 15 pupils who wore shirt and ties and the girls in very European tartan skirts. The school is taught in both English and French and most of the children could at least understand and a lot could also speak good English. There was a well equipped play area and even a swimming pool (if only we could have got in , as yes you guessed it, again it is hot). Fortunately there was plenty of shade. This was a great opportunity to both coach the various cricket skills and games at which the team has now become very adept and slick, but was also to try out some different evaluation techniques and to explore in more depth the HIV / SIDA knowledge.
The younger children aged 9-11 were at first a little nervous to talk about sex and HIV but a brave smiling girl broke the silence and then with this age group we explored the basics. But next with a group of teenagers we split them into groups to write on plastic bats ways of preventing HIV. This worked really well and messages were written such as “ no sex before marriage”..”get tested for HIV before marriage”.. “be faithful to your partner”.. “ use a condom”. Then after a further cricket game we were able to expand further about myths and untruths about HIV such as ways to catch it and pass it on. Inclusivity was a strong message today trying to partner boys and girls together in the practice sessions.
The head teacher was keen to show us another Academy they are building in the outskirts of Yaoundé and we were driven to see it (though very kind, a hidden agenda of wanting funds and help was definitely present).
Quick turnaround for lunch and back for a further session at their main school in the afternoon and a different experiment of asking them in groups to write down the problems in their communities and then we placed these on stumps for them to try and knock them away with tennis balls which they enjoyed. As well as SIDA, other community issues included the lack of hospitals, no clean water, corruption, “la violence conjugal” and even these days, “exorcisme”
So finally a 2 ½ hour session training the Cameroonian cricket squad at their “home training ground” . This consisted of a concrete yard at a state school which we shared with another team practicing handball. Their talent, enthusiasm and athleticism is obvious but very raw. They have 4 or 5 pretty quick bowlers and similar batsmen and all can throw the ball like a rocket! But they can only practice with a wind ball. There are no nets and no cricket pitches in Cameroon so how they have already got to the standard they are is quite outstanding.
Highlight of the day was a cultural exchange between Dave and Lawrence with each showing the other dance moves (Lawrence said he is a dance teacher, Dave definitely isn’t!)