Day 4 in the Lira big brother house.

Another mini-adventure last evening included our walk into Lira at night. No street lights, or much electricity, a storm of almost biblical proportions with the lightening providing some sight of the largest potholes in the Equator but less helpful in allowing us to avoid the early evening cyclists who drifted around the potholes and the muzingo’s (african for white men). Lira at night has a real African borderlands feel to it. That slight edge, but equally everyone completly oblivious to the random 3 white men.

We learnt a valuable lesson last night whilst tucking into some burnt goat that Ugandan’s take their news bulletins very seriously and talking during it is completely frowned upon. We all got a right telling off by several members of the restaurant for laughing and talking during a particularly pressing bulletin on sewage building in the east of the country. Not sure I have ever seen such committment to News at 10, or sewage development.

A relatively early night, still couldn’t avoid the by now regular African rave music that seems to start up at 4.30am to be replaced 2 hours later by hundreds of school children arriving at school with what appears to be an enthusiasm, again not shared by their English contemporaries. People value an education dearly here.

Although there were 4 coaches who had turned up early, the numbers making it for 10am seems to be going in reverse. However, as the teachers ambled in from various directions and from various forms of transpeorts, we were treated to one of the biggest characters I have met in Uganda. Warming up by hitting a few balls to Lee’s
“medium pace” we were met by quite literally a man that would fit the description of a one armed bandit, albeit wearing a red Evil Kneivel helmet. Telling Lee that he had seen cricket before at Lugo (ground in Kampala) he then proceeded to give directions for Lee to alter the angle of your run up saying that first he “needed a longer run up” and then more of a Straight run up at that. Not content with giving bowling advice to our small hero, the Ugandan Eddie Kidd decided to join in with one of our warm ups: I never thought I would be bunny hopping around a field in a former war zone in Northern Uganda after a one armed Ugandan in a red helmet. It wasn’t long before a police woman was gently escorting Eddie off the field. We salute him…

After that excitement the first part of the morning session was spent recapping certain areas for the coaches, offering them bowling with Lee, batting with me (Ed) and running between the wickets/umpiring with Rich. We then had Lira’s first proper game of cricket with the first female Northern Ugandan umpires. It is truly remarkable to see two strong female role models who had no idea of what cricket was 3 days ago, signalling wides and 4’s, though the black panther no-ball signal was quite a sight. Without any CWB manipulation on the scoring, the match was genuinely tied.

A quick lunch back at the Lira international hotel involved gatecrashing a local government buffet: the East African’s enthusiasm for the most amount of carbs possible on a plate remains undiminished. Walking back to the ground we again risked took risk on Rich’s shortcut via the Police station garden, which last time had involved walking past a lot of guards with AK47’s “encouraging” some prisoners to pull a very immobile 4×4 from a very large mud pit. There were also several strategically placed Hobbit holes for some members of the party to fall down.

But what an afternoon. This ranks as one of the best CWB days for the three of us. This was the afternoon we tentatively let the coaches out into the brave world of running games with over 140 kids. We have come to realise that whilst time keeping is more of an aspiration than a goal, their committment and enthusiasm is something to behold. But it was also their coaching that impressed. These were people that 4 days ago did not know what a wicket was let alone a straight bowling arm and there they were emphasing the importance of being faithful to keeping a straight arm.

Our project manager, Richard made up for having to take a little trip to the hotel to get more balls and cones, with one of the best AIDS awareness messages after the game I have seen, ably translated by the redoutable Harriet (George was still getting a mouthful today for his comments about women’s slow learning). Please see extended blog for this inspirational message.

We only have one day left before the team heads up to Gulu for stage 2. Tomorrow will have to go some to beat today, but we are optimistic. Again Check out Harriet’s video above as to why we are doing what we do: Go Harriet!

Boys and girls from Ireda Primary School aim at the stumps during their first practice session.

New coaches demonstrating the grip

Students from Lira Town College

The straight drive

Felix from Lango College tops scores in todays 6 over a side game, which ended in a sporting draw.

More action from this mornings game

Rich finishes the session with a visual HIV/AIDS message.