By Project Leader Greg Mackett
Well there it is, CWB’s spring project to Uganda for 2017 is done and dusted with the team all back in Blighty and currently suffering from Ugandan sun withdrawal symptoms. The words to describe how wonderful projects like these are can be tricky to find but I will try my best but first the facts and figures of what this marvellous team achieved, 3 towns, over 30 schools, dozens of new coaches and a few thousand kids coached in not only cricket but the ABCST message.
As with any great tale we need to start at the beginning, and for this CWB team that starting point was Masaka a couple of hours west of Kampala. It was clear to see on the first morning that there were some nerves floating around the first time volunteers but with the experienced helping hands of Clive and SJ plus CWB ambassador extraordinaire Emmanuel they managed to keep their cool and deliver some fantastic sessions to hit the ground running.
One thing that was clear for everyone to see was Masaka SS had a strong depth of cricket talent, this was most evident one afternoon when several of the girls team got stuck into some coaching. Afterwards the CWB team delivered a specialised coaching session where we found that the aforementioned girls are actually part of the Uganda women’s U19’s. Sadly however the Uganda rain washed out any hope of a festival to celebrate the work that had been done in the region over the first few days of the project. Cricket in the Masaka region has many strong assets but with long-term CWB friend Yusuf along with new friends Olive and Ali, Mens and womens cricket is only going to go one way.
Next stop for the now finely tuned machine was Masindi and a revisit to an old stomping ground, Aunt Sally’s New Court View. On the first morning there was a little confusion as to what to expect as a local Coca-Cola football tournament threatened to push onto our turf. Thanks though to Joseph the local sports officer and Chris from Kabalega School, a plan was swiftly thrashed out and while most of the team were sent on the road a small team were left behind to train up 20 new teachers as cricket coaches.
10 Primary schools and several hundred kids in 2 days left the team in real need of a day of rest, although if you read our previous blog you’d know that some of the team may not be entirely happy with their project leaders choice of “rest” activity. Those thoughts of revenge soon disappeared once 12 teams descended upon the sports field of Masindi to compete in one of the best CWB festivals I’ve seen. As mentioned in previous blogs St Edwards won the day but there is no question as to who won the hearts of the team and that was Alpha and his friends from Family Spirit.
Leaving Masindi was hard but Entebbe called and after a bit of Kampala traffic the team arrived at their final home for the trip. Its worth pointing out that the team arrived at ViaVia guesthouse with trepidation after a drive down a dark beaten track, the next morning those fears were washed away thanks to some fantastic views and some french toast for breakfast.
With energy levels starting to run low and voices starting to sound like Rod Stewart after smoking 40 B&H in a row, the team dug deep and rallied together to squeeze out a last few shouts of Chika Chika Chika and Condom. Come the final day the weather once again tried to scupper the plans for a festival but with a last minute relocation to the Entebbe Oval the 10 teams managed to get some cricket in. One fantastic advantage of the relocation meant that not only did we have CWB coaches and teachers running the festival, we also had Kenyan Cricket hero Steve Tikolo and the rest of his Ugandan national team to cheers on the boys on girls. From what I saw I really think it made those boys and girls hit the ball at least 10 yards further just with the watching eyes of the national heroes standing next to them. Nakiwogo won the revised tournament by just the 1 run and they duly celebrated in style.
On our last night sat around the dinner table the team tried to share our favourite memory from the trip but for those of you who have previously done one of these trips picking just one memory is virtually impossible. We had some downs along the way but there were so many ups that any downs were soon forgotten. As I said at the dinner table on that final night, Carl and Co talk about CWB being a family at the training weekend but its only really at the end of an experience like we’ve had in Uganda that you really understand what they mean.
To Julie, Clive, Isaac, SJ, Clare, Tony, Manny and Joseph, we are forever family.