Departure from Kenya – Day 15

Our final day in Kenya dawns in Nakuru, a town about three hours from Nairobi. CWB has coached here on other trips although this time we are just passing through from our stays further West. We meet with George again, the local coach and, we are convinced, the coolest coach in Africa! Before we leave for Nairobi we visit the Rift Valley Sports Club to see George coaching a group of young players, ranging from one girl on her first session through to Emily (a fifteen-year-old bowler) and Barbara (a wicket keeper) who both play for the senior Kenya women’s team.
The setting is a traditional colonial cricket ground with its green outfield, a groundsman rolling the pitch and a lady sweeping it before the final 20/20 match of the season tomorrow. A perfect scene that makes us all want to play! But after a final souvenir trip to the market we have to jump on the coach for the final journey back to Nairobi.
It’s been my first CWB trip and I’ll remember it for many things. The laughter of the 6,000 children in the 25 schools we visited; the Kwik Cricket tournament in Kericho with 100+ children from 3 local schools desperate to represent their schools well but learning that the Spirit of Cricket transcends the final result; the faces of the babies and children in the three orphanages we visited, children being cared for by nurses and social workers who are giving them the start in life they deserve and which we take for granted; the 50 young teachers at the Kericho training college being introduced to cricket coaching for the first time, and the countless other teachers who helped with our sessions, joining in to the delight of their pupils.
A special memory will be the CWB and Cricket Kenya coaches and volunteers we met in each of the towns we visited: people like Derek, George, Sam and Matheus who burn with an enthusiasm for cricket and young people and who are dedicated to growing the game in Marang’a, Kericho, Kisimu and the Homa Hills and more importantly helping young people to understand how to grow up healthy. With these coaches representing CWB in local schools every week of the year, the charity’s work is clearly embedding and not just dependent on trips of volunteers from England twice a year.
I’ll remember our two Massai Warrior friends, Daniel and Benjamin, who were with us for the whole trip. Two young cricketers who represent the sport and their tribe with humbling dignity, kindness, humour and vision. Daniel hopes to play in England next year and hopefully we’ll be able to watch the 70 mph, 6’5 fast bowler bouncing out teams across the South East and then laughing and joking with them afterwards.
Nicholas, CWB’s Ambassador in Kenya, will be remembered as a cricketer and coach with a passion for education: a natural leader who inspires children and teachers as well as the coaches and the whole team. If he ever becomes the leading figure in Kenya’s cricket development programme he deserves to be, Kenya will be respected the world over.
Who can forget our team of volunteers from England led by Gary and Jon: Khush, Hannah, Derek, Amanda, Tim and myself: we return to England tired and happy and I know we all believe we’ve learned more about life, cricket, friendship and the human spirit than we imagined possible in two weeks.
And of course we’ll remember Kenya, a massive country of contradictions: struggling with drought in some areas while lush tea plantations elsewhere supply the world; beautiful countryside, mountains and lakes as well as vibrant, dusty, noisy cities; grinding poverty despite the apparent wealth of Nairobi; the scourge of HIV/AIDS crippling a culture which is often still primitive and repressive, while everyone is using their mobiles and technology. And of course the children – despite their circumstances, they are like children everywhere, bubbling with energy, resilience, joy, curiosity and playfulness.

Thank you Kenya and good luck: asante sana.

Gary Storer

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