Are you ready? No response.
Are you ready? (a bit louder) Yes. (Quiet)
Repeat until eventually a resounding cheer to get going on the first drill. This wasn’t, however, the usual group of 150 children. It was a group of 20 primary school teachers who want to learn more about cricket and the way Cricket Without Boundaries uses sport to enhance HIV awareness and learning as well as improve physical fitness.
The 2-day programme is tried and tested and was one I’d been through at the training weekend for this trip. There’s no classroom based learning, the focus is on getting moving and doing as soon as possible. The course demonstrates the key points of coaching and how to structure a session. Many examples of exercises for the key skills in cricket were given with an emphasis on being creative – one of the most necessary skills – as there won’t always be a pristine outfield with a bag of equipment to hand. Some friendly games at the end brought some lively competition to the proceedings and all coach-trainees were invited back to help us with our coaching in the afternoon.
Day Two got the coaches involved straight away with organising relay drills as a warm up for the children. We then went on to teach them some ideas for games emphasising that they are a fun way to create an environment where everyone can play together no matter their gender, age or HIV status.
After receiving their certificates, the teachers were invited back for a third day to get involved in coaching and put what they’d learnt into practice. Jo and I were trying out Team Targets for the first time with primary school children. Martha came to help us and demonstrated a good understanding of the rules helping us to communicate with the children.
Once we had created a way of distinguishing the two teams (of 20 or so children all wearing the same uniform) the game got going. A little slow to start but soon the usual chaos ensued. Martha also stepped up to deliver the wrap up, reinforcing the ABCTS messages.
It proved to be a good day when half an hour later, Martha with the help of another teacher had set up her own game of Team Targets with a school group that had just arrived.
And that’s why we do it. To give teachers the opportunity to carry on what we do when the two-week project is finished. We hope they get the support from the cricket association but we’re confident that it’s something they can do if they want to.
And it’s important, because cricket and sport in general takes children out of the teacher-centred classroom environment and gets their bodies moving cultivating an active mind. On the cricket field they continue learning – whether it’s the HIV messages we promote, or maths through counting scores. Through delivering a coaching structure we encourage teachers (and children) to think for themselves, to work in groups and to come up with new ideas – something that is all too often missing in the classroom.