This was the first cricket festival of the trip, and my first as well. I have heard so much about how fun the CWB festival days are and I was so looking forward to it! Kids were equally thrilled and geared up for the competition. The format of cricket on the festival days is different from the normal coaching days. While the usual school days are more about coaching cricket, with different stations for batting, bowling and catching, the festival is all about the competition, with the rapid fire cricket format in which children from one school compete with other schools. We had six primary and three secondary schools participating in the festival, each of these school sent 20 kids, 10 boys and 10 girls if they were co-ed.
For the primary school section, each team played against four other teams. Based on the number of matches won and the scores in the individual games, the top two teams in the league table went ahead for the final playoffs. For the Secondary section, there were three teams who played against each other.
At one point, I was scoring a game between Police Primary and Prison Primary. The game was excellent, almost nail biting, with teachers and kids equally passionate. The ground was full of loud screams and people cheering their teams. Police Primary, which was the host school for the festival, they had the home ground advantage and a massive support from the rest of school children, who came to cheer in massive numbers during their lunch time. It became a big crowd control exercise where we had to stop the rapid fire cricket to avoid kids interfering the game.
We also had twelve disabled children participating in the festival, who were equally passionate about the game. Rita and I decided to plan specific games for these kids, as few of them were visually impaired and a few were using crutches. We planned a game of batting where we lined up the cones on a certain distance to define two, four and six runs. One team batted and then other, for a team of six they were able to score an amazing 48 and 46 runs, and made it look like quite an easy game!!
We then went for another round of batting, a game of catch, and played a local game in circle called ‘wrong maata’. Kids really enjoyed the entire series of the games, and for us as well it was such an inspiring session which reinforced my belief in ‘where there is a will, there is a way!’ These kids also worked together as a team to highlight benefits of playing cricket, which included cricket being an inclusive sport which promoted unity and friendship.
Along with the games and all the cheer, there was also a HIV testing station organised by TASO and around 41 school children got tested. We were pleased that all of them were HIV negative. Along with the testing, whenever we were getting chances, we did lot of good conversations and quizzes on the side while the teams were waiting for their turn to play. Sarah was working with an interesting group of girls on quizzes, who asked us if it took 3-4 weeks to fly to England (it’s a long journey, but thank goodness, it was not that bad!)
After all the competitions, there was the final award ceremony where we thanked everyone, presented teachers with T-shirts and coaching certificates, and T-shirt’s to the winning teams – Gulu High Secondary school won the senior finals and the Police Primary won the juniors sections, which was the host school. During the award ceremony, almost the entire school was on the ground cheering and celebrating with loud victory chants and different forms of dances… we all really enjoyed the day, and it indeed felt like a festival!
Written by: Taruna Bhagtani (first time CWB volunteer)