Country Manager. What’s it all about?

I can’t quite pinpoint the moment I decided to dedicate a large portion of my spare time to CWB but,¬† shortly after my return from Rwanda where I joined a trip as a first time Volunteer in March 2013, I started to notice that I spent more and more time emailing people in Africa and less time undertaking pointless tasks like working.

Like many others, I found my two weeks with CWB a revelation and made friendships that will last a lifetime. I am a rubbish cricketer and, arguably, a similar standard coach! Yet, it didn’t matter. Day-in, day-out I coached¬†Hundreds of kids who wanted to play Cricket for the sheer enjoyment of it. That’s my kind of coaching.

Fast forward 18 months and a further CWB trip to Kenya. Having badgered all and sundry at CWB to stay involved, I find myself as Kenya Country Manager, planning a trip for 8 volunteers in 5 months time. No pressure!

gary2I quickly realised that we are pushing at an open door. The Kenya Cricket Association, our local ambassador Nicholas, local coaches George, Benjamin, Peter and Daniel, schools, orphanages etc were literally begging for a visit. The hardest part of trip planning is accommodating all.

I am now well used to working with our ambassadors, Cricket Kenya and other local coaches to arrange transport, hotels, schools to teach in and, most importantly, contacts within local health organisations to provide HIV testing , counselling and treatment facilities during our projects.

I have now realised that ensuring volunteers have a great two week project is easy. Nicholas, our ambassador will see to that with little input from me. A key part of my role therefore is what we do when CWB are not in country. I try to maintain a regular dialogue with Cricket Kenya, Nicholas, HIV medical professionals in our project areas, as well as the next group of volunteers scheduled to visit Kenya. I consider the key part of my role is to ensure that every trip improves on the last in terms of impact. At the end of every trip, every volunteer has some kind of amazing story of the impact they have had. Each time, it makes me immensely proud of the small role I played.

The Country manager role is a joy if I am honest. Trip planning is a part of the role that provides huge satisfaction. Seeing feedback from first time volunteers never fails to raise a smile. From there, the world is your oyster as to how you assist in the development of cricket within a country. Whilst I am incredibly proud of the HIV and FGM awareness work we do in Kenya, our partnerships and impact on a cricket basis also cannot be overlooked.

In Kenya, roughly half of the under 18’s girls team and a similar number of of the boys team of the same age had never played cricket before meeting CWB and started their career through one of our two week projects.

If the paragraph above doesn’t make you think you can make a difference, nothing will!

Gary Shankland
Kenya Country Manager

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