Friday 28th February-our final day in Kenya….
The last couple of days has seen more schools coaching in unbelieveably hot conditions but some great kids, none moreso than at Kusulisuli Primary and Eastwood Girls where the children were well behaved and very skilful. So it was an early "get up" to pack and get ready for our tournament featuring 12 boys teams and 12 girls team from the Nakuru area. We had a mobile HIV/AIDS testing centre arriving and use of the excellent Rift Valley Sports Club Ground.
After delays in the arrival of some of the teams we got underway and the quality of the players was there to see. Six groups of four yielded six group winners plus two best losers to compete in the quarter finals and ultimately the semi finals with Baharini Boys School making it through to take on the Jamhuri Boys in the final. The event went like clockwork.
The final was a classic. It was umpired by our own CWB ambassador Nicholas Oluoch and the delightful Kenyan U19 international Mary Wambui (who had spent a number of days coaching with us), and with running commentary from Cameron "Blowers" Foster ("he's up to the wicket and he bowls……") and Geoff-Leigh Bore 'em Boycott-Rees ("personally I would have blocked that one….."). The locals had no idea at all what we were talking about but we had a right laugh. Jamhuri were chasing a modest 31 to win (6 overs per side, pairs format with 4 lost for a wicket) and were struggling with 25 needed in the final two overs, But a huge 20 off the penultimate over including a couple of mammoth sixes put Jamhuri in the box seat. A wicket in the final over threatened briefly, but a couple of "buzzers" off the penultimate ball left four needed and a huge six off the final ball had the spectators off their seats and dancing wildly. Jamhuri win by three runs.The whole thing was filmed by Daniel Mamai, our Masaai Warrior and will hopefully make it onto FB or You Tube soon.
A tired team then boarded Ice Man's bus for 5 hours to Nairobi to grab some dinner before the 8 hour flight back to Heathrow. All very emotional as we waved goodbye to our local friends at Rift Valley, including Daniel (looking forward to seeing him again in Dulwich in the summer) and George then, at the airport, Ice Man and Nicholas and finally, at Heathrow, the dream team tearfully went their separate ways.
5500 kids coached, just under 100 new coaches/tutors trained, two orphanages visited and so many other good deeds made for a truly wonderful experience that none of us will forget in a hurry. We Passed the Duchy, we taught African kids the finest Madness hits (Our House) as well as Dreadlock Holiday (confusing them badly when we taught them to sing "I dont like cricket, Oh No!…..") and of course Shakira's "Waka Waka-This is Africa" featured a few thousand times, If you put 8 strangers together for 16 days in at times unbearable conditions its got to be a recipe for the odd squabble at least, But not this lot, and credit must go to our PL, Laura, for sorting numerous off field issues that occurred (too many to mention) in order to shelter the team and leave us to get on with the coaching-credit too to the team itself for just getting on with it. The trip was made all the better for a week in the company of Gary Shankland, CEO David Murray and the awesome Tracey Davies- we regularly cried with laughter. This continued courtesy of BA on the flight home when Beef Stew was announced as a menu option (an in-joke Im afraid but priceless at the end of this trip).
Im sure many of us will be back-pretty sure I will be. If you are a potential volunteer pondering whether to do it, get on and do it-you wont regret a minute.
Signing off for now
Papa Bear (sponsored by Immodium)