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Rita… This Girl Can – by Anthony Statham

Between 12-26 March 2017 I had the privilege of supporting a volunteering project to Uganda for a charity called Cricket Without Boundaries (CWB). CWB is dedicated to helping, educating and developing local communities around the world through the growth of cricket.

It was a life changing experience that contributed to over 3500 children receiving HIV/AIDS awareness messaging through cricket coaching and also a further 70 local teachers trained as level 1 coaches to continue this work. There are countless lessons learnt that can be applied to developing clubs, coaches and volunteers in Sussex as a result of a project that actively delivered health related messaging through coaching.

Here’s a bit about my experience…

Fifth day into the trip and the second cohort of teachers from the Masindi District are arriving for a morning of coach education with Greg, Issac and myself. We started with 20 teachers, many of whom were new to cricket and Greg quickly started getting them into shape!

The story that reflects the coach education CWB undertakes whilst here, is that of Rita from Family Spirit, which is an orphanage a few miles outside of downtown Masindi. When meeting Rita initially, she was lovely, however it was clear that she lacked confidence when it came to coaching cricket. Rita actively took part in the morning session, going about her business in a quiet yet concentrated manner, listening to the ABCT messaging and how this came across in coaching points. And then the afternoon came about…

The afternoon session took us to Kilhande and Family Spirit for a session with approximately 77 children. This was an opportunity for several of the coaches from the morning to observe session delivery and then have a go themselves. Rita and I were paired on the bowling station.

Rita instantly bonded with the children and it was clear to see that they had enormous respect for her. Her delivery was quite outstanding – she was confident, connected with others and proactively embedded the ABCT messaging. It was a joy to see and a real highlight of my first week. Having never coached cricket before, there she was acting the part and being the part. Brilliant. The smile on her face afterwards said it all.

The lesson learnt here was that giving the opportunity for teachers to learn a new skill and practice this in an active scenario is absolutely key to their learning. And even more importantly, for CWB to leave a legacy of confident teachers with the ability to coach cricket whilst providing key ABCT messaging.

Following the afternoon session we headed to Masindi Public where we were greeted with what can only be described as a fanfare welcome. As soon as we got off the bus we were surrounded – smiles and high fives all round. This was our first taste of a large number of children to coach in an hour session and we had had to get straight on with it. The 140 children were, let’s say, enthusiastic and it certainly tested our skills! At the end I was buzzing.

As we headed back to the hotel at the end of the day, my final thought was the session Rita delivered earlier that afternoon.

GO RITA… THIS GIRL CAN ROCK!