Fourteen things we learnt from our CWB trip to Rwanda!

IT’S EASY TO MAKE NEW FRIENDS

Whether it’s your team mates, the kids, Eddie the ever-smiling driver or all the awesome Rwandan cricket coaches – it is easy to make new friends in Rwanda. Lasting friendships, too. You’re all in the same boat, so it’s imperative you get on with your crew and share this wonderful experience with them.

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All the cool kids in Huye – they sure know how to pose for a pic!

IT IS POSSIBLE FOR A MAN TO SLEEP DURING THE WORLD’S LOUDEST KARAOKE

Our Bob is older than some other people who are younger than him. We went out for a team karaoke night and he managed to fall asleep during it. It was very loud. Maybe our singing just sucked? I’d say a nice mix of the two. Wake up, Bob!

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Bob was probably tired after all of his big hitting.

RWANDA IS ONLY AN HOUR AHEAD OF THE U.K

In terms of the actual time this is true BUT if you want to get something done (like order dinner) it can take hours. We learnt that there’s the world clock and then there’s the time according to Rwanda – where everything happens in a very leisurely and relaxed manor. Which can have both positive and negative outcomes!

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“Has anyone here thought about the benefits of a plant based diet?”

LOOKING WEIRD IS A REAL CROWD PLEASER

Yep – you hear the phrase ‘Mzungu’ (white person) wherever you go, so if you’ve got a sea of dodgy tattoos (including a microwave, a drunk dog, two cricket tattoos and a Marmalade Pope one) then it’s fair to say, you’re going to attract a fair amount of attention. Obviously the massive hooter and comedy hair helped, too… that’s not to say that I was the only freak of nature in the party. Thom’s massive kebab spit calves were enough to entertain several hundred people at once who marvelled in their joyous girth.

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Every coach ever has worn cones as a hat / earrings.
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Oh, and the kids too.

IT’S POSSIBLE TO ENTERTAIN TWO HUNDRED PEOPLE BY SHOUTING AWOOGA

Whoever invented it (legend says it was John Fashanu but it was actually Craig Charles – read this), it sure is a catchy phrase that will entertain people in any language. Our Hope Dear was a great exponent of an Awooga chant and if you listen carefully, you can probably still hear it echoing around the world.

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“Repeat after me – AWOOGA, AWOOGA, AWOOGA!”

CERTAIN COACHES WILL CHEAT WHEN IT COMES TO TOURNAMENTS 

Can you believe it? You’ve been into the schools and taught the kids, then they turn up full of the joys of cricket for the inter-schools tournament. As coaches we get a team to manage throughout the event and some coaches were more competitive than others… with the idea being that you give the kids a fair feed to hit the ball and run! Well, ‘Yorker Bob’ and ‘Unfair Claire’ has different ideas about this. Kudos to Claire who started off the trip as a cricket novice and ended up taking full length diving catches off her own bowling.

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Unfair Claire does her aeroplane impression to ruin another photo.

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

Whether it’s the fifteenth power cut of the day, or there’s a dramatic puppy rescue from a hedge, or perhaps you’ve arrived at an orphanage and it’s moved to another part of country – there’s always something different happening in Rwanda. Perhaps you arrive at a school and it’s on the side of a mountain? No problem. Perhaps an impromptu tour around a tea factory? Exciting! How about lunch on a petrol pump? Rwanda has it all!

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Kids moving school. Literally.
All the tea in Rwanda. It's a super-beautiful country!
All the tea in Rwanda. It’s a super-beautiful country!

TALL ERIC LOVES BATTING

Tall Eric plays for the Rwandan national team. He’s also twenty-five foot tall and a CWB coach in Rwanda. Eric is a fast bowler who touches on 80mph apparently… but he LOVES batting. The whole two weeks, even when we were waiting at schools for sessions or having a mess around – Eric loved batting. And he liked to build an innings.. even with a plastic bat on a playground. It was all worth it because he scored a magnificent and match winning 87 runs for CWB versus a local Rwandan Club. Well done, Eric!

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One of his shots is still in orbit.

IT’S POSSIBLE TO PLAY CRICKET WITH A HUNDRED ON EACH SIDE

Our Iain Martin (Aston) proved this in Kinihira. Tasked with 200 kids and a game, he got them playing a match with a hundred players on each team and they all flippin’ loved it. Also, massive thanks to the person who invented the aforementioned ‘Rapid Fire’ game. Iain owes you a beer.

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Playing cricket on the side of a mountain, in a building site.

WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS

This isn’t a negative metaphor, I am British, so at least one point had to be about the weather. The rain storms don’t mess about in Rwanda. When it rains, it REALLY REALLY RAINS. Like really really. A lot of people assumed it was just gonna be super hot all the time but it rained a lot. This also had a negative effect on the time keeping of the hotels’ laundry service. First world washing problems ahoy.

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Getting ready for some torrential rain in Kigali. Moody African skies!

RWANDA LOVES CRICKET

Since being home, people have said to me “Do they even play cricket in Rwanda?!” Well, the answer is a resounding yes. A new national ground which will be built for 2017 and a world record holder as their captain (another Eric) and wherever we went – the kids did genuinely love cricket and there was some serious talent around, too. Oh, and we’re not just talking about boys. The girls were just as good.

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A young lady in Huye nailing one through the covers.
World record holder - Captain Eric, surveys the new ground.
World record holder – Captain Eric, surveys the new ground.

BREAK TIMES ARE YOUR ENEMY

Picture the scene – you’ve been told you have 100 kids to coach but you get 200. You set up game for 200. The break time bell goes and another 200 kids come out and either form a circle or run off with the tennis balls. This is where an ‘Awooga Party’ comes into play to divert attention. Break times are your enemy but you end up making more new friends.

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All the kids coming out to play in Kigali.
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All girls’ school in a stunning setting in Kayonza.

EDDIE LOVES A HUG

After a day of hard coaching or on the road – Eddie (our awesome van driver) insists on a team hug / rugby scrum. Which is great for bonding as you get to smell each other after a day in the Rwandan sun / rain.

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Eddie – van driver, model – he’s got it all.

NEVER TELL ANYONE WHAT OTHER COUNTRIES YOU’VE BEEN TO

I mentioned a couple of times that I had been to China in the past and everyone seemed to think it was amusing to remind me every few minutes. “Hey Jhon – have you been to China?” Funny buggers. To be fair, I did exactly the same to everyone else. FYI: Thom has been to Cameroon twice, Bob has been to Rwanda before and Suresh has been to India.

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Rob has been to Rwanda and India and Nepal.

So, you’ve seen all the fun we had in Rwanda – it’s such a beautiful country, too. What are you waiting for? It’s time for you to apply for a CWB trip to one of five African countries. You can do so right here – applications are still open for next Autumn. We had such a great experience and we coached nearly 4000 kids cricket / important HIV & AIDS awareness messages.

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Kinihira cricket festival.

I’d just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who went on the trip, we had a blast and I liked you so much that I’m willing to stay in the group WhatsApp for at least another fortnight. Oh, and thanks to everyone who supported me beforehand, too. The Marmalade Pope had a right old time in Rwanda!

This is my friend called Iain and we had loads of fun.
This is my friend called Iain (Aston) and we had loads of fun.

Jhon Cosgrove / Marmalade Pope / A vegan who has been to China.

PS: You can check out a whole load more inspirational photos from the trip right here.

Team Rwanda Written by: