With our time in Masindi over, Friday was a travel day to our next location, Mbarara – a much larger town which sits in the far South West of the country. Highlights of the journey included a stop at the equator – with the mandatory delivery of a ball from the Northern to Southern Hemisphere.
Plenty of Carl’s (most definitely not with a ‘K’) ‘themed’ music quizzes. The ceremonial handover from Ed to Lee of former England captain, Ted Dexter’s thriller ‘Test Kill’ (apparently it’s an unintentionally hilarious classic!)
A first attempt from Dan at souvenir shopping – I fear he could need a spare room to put it all in on his return to the UK. Some extraordinary sleeping positions from Tom throughout. And the occasional chuckle and roll of the eyes from Matt & Julie as the team continued to fiercely debate such intellectual conundrums as our top 5 nuts, sandwiches, barbecued meats and vegetables… It was a long ten hours! However, eventually we arrived at the Acacia hotel in time for a much needed drink and evening meal. In keeping with the trip so far, the food was excellent and, even more remarkably for those of us with several projects behind us, on time, with goat, tilapia, stews, biryanis and a cheese burger (you can take the boy out of Leeds…) being consumed.
And so, onto our first full day in Mbarara and the team was split again with Lee and Matt taking 17 local teachers for coach ed, while the rest of us lead two sessions at Mbarara High. Here, with it being a Saturday, the children slowly appeared as we unpacked the kit, but when we eventually had over 100 we quickly got them into lines ready to start the relays. However, as we did, it struck us – where were the girls? Upon realising there were none in front of us our collective mindset was to march back into the school to demand to the head teacher that they brought the same number of girls out to be coached. However, just as we were about to embarrass ourselves, a gentle tap on our shoulders from Coach Manny told us, this was in fact an all boy’s boarding school!
This is a first for this trip, but it is pleasing to report that the boys were extremely knowledgeable about the health messages and genuinely seemed to recognise gender equality when we questioned their knowledge on the importance of women to the success of society. Consequently, it turned out to be another really inspiring morning with some great skills on show and some excellent knowledge shared around via the white boards, target sheets and general group discussions.
In the afternoon the teams reunited and ran a session with Ntare High on a packed field with a raucous football tournament one end and a hockey match to the side. Here, the children had clearly played plenty of cricket before and after a few games of rapid fire (the game the schools will most likely play at Tuesday’s festival) the team made use of the concrete strip in the middle of the field to play some ‘normal’ cricket. Obviously, some of us suitably embarrassed ourselves doing this while also discovering some real talent amongst the children.
So, another fun-packed busy two days with a further two predicted before we leave for Masaka. There was undoubtedly one particular highlight though, that I think it’s important to share. At the coach education morning yesterday, it’s fair to report, that the teachers were not quite as enthusiastic as those in Masindi earlier in the trip – it was a Saturday after all and they were all giving up their spare time. However, there was one new coach who will live long in the memory. 7 year old Michael. Upon Lee & Matt’s arrival he insisted on carrying a share of the kit to the playing area. Then throughout the morning he diligently joined in, hitting balls off the cones -bettering many of the other teachers, learnt how to catch and even managed to reach the semi-final of the head, shoulders, knees and toes game. If ever anyone earned their CWB Coach’s t-shirt at the end of the session it was him. Indeed, for the rest of us to arrive after lunch to see him still there wearing his massively oversized t-shirt, tucked carefully into his shorts, it was a thing of absolute beauty! He then stayed for the rest of the afternoon, joined in every session, helped the other children, caught everything in sight and then insisted on once again helping us carry the kit to the bus when all of us were thoroughly cooked. What a hero! We can’t wait to see Michael again on Tuesday at the festival where we’re sure he’ll make full use of his new found skills.