After another early start, our first visit of the day was to Nacho school where we were greeted by an empty playing field! Apparently there is a problem in Bamenda at the moment with many students having not paid their school fees and those that cannot pay are not allowed to attend school at all! Sometimes we just don’t realise how lucky we are in do we? Also, the games teacher has been away for the last couple of days and hadn’t managed to let the rest of the school know we were coming. However, a quick chat with the Head of Discipline, complete with his menacing rubber tube whip, soon had the field awash with children. But to us, it wasn’t enough…. So, some of the team then took it upon themselves to march into a classroom (to be fair the head of sports had arrived by now and escorted us!) and virtually dragged another 30 of the bigger children out to play – and when I say bigger, I mean it literally, as some of the students were ginormous! A fairly feral session then took place with plenty of balls disappearing with mountains of smiles and the now rejuvenated head of sports studiously studying the form of his students so he knew which of the best 40 he would be selecting to bring along to the ‘Inter Schools Competition’ (not festival!) on Friday. I’m not really a betting man, but if I were….
We then had a bit of a gap before our next school so all took the opportunity to head into town and try our hand at haggling in the local market. I think it’s fair to say that none of us were particularly good at this and if anyone wants an overpriced, XXXL (more UK Medium!) fake, Cameroon football shirt, just let me know? I’ll never learn…
Our next visit was to St Michaels, a new school that we had visited for the first time on Monday during our letter drop – and what a find it turned out to be! We were greeted by the friendly Principle (rare!) and the head of sports (introducing himself as John the Baptist) who had attended our successful coach education course yesterday,. The children had never even heard of cricket, let alone played it, yet picked the skills up really quickly and by the time we left we were all of the opinion that cricket will surely blossom in this school in the months to come. Our Cameroon Ambassador, Sunjo has already arranged his first post trip visit.
We then moved onto Pauline, one of coordinator’s, school – Longla. This was an after school club with the numbers swelling somewhat once the activity began. Another brilliant session took place with even some of the surlier older children, who had only turned up to ask for a tennis ball, being coaxed into playing a game.
Our final stop of the day was perhaps the highlight though as we called into the Helping Hands Orphanage. Here we met 16 boys and 15 girls, and for those readers that have perhaps visited here on a previous trip, I am pleased to report that the children are still vibrant and the overwhelming sense of family about the place is as strong as ever. Nearly two hours were spent playing catching games, hitting balls, chatting to the children and culminating in an epic game of ‘The Lion Game’, in the yard. I have a feeling that this could well be making its way back to England with some of the coaches! Reluctantly as the sun began to set we then made our way back to the hotel exhausted but uplifted by another busy but fun filed day. We have already agreed to head back to Helping Hands after the tournament on Friday – We all feel it will be a fitting end to our amazing journey.