A Big Day

The day following the Queen’s birthday is certainly not usually the best day for a rugby bonanza. However, circumstances beyond our control meant that we HAD to select 12 Under 14 boys to attend the tour aid Nations cup in the UK in Spetember.
Despite the obvious priviledge of the 12 selected, competition was fierce, but teamwork was also impressive. Considering this was the first time many of the players had done Tag rugby before, they all picked it up and displayed their skills well. We did finally manage to select 12 and are going to be organising their passports in the next week.

Lots of News – 09.06.2007

Well, apologies for the delay in writing this post! School commitments and house-hunting have put paid to our internet sessions! Since the last blog we have visited another school in the South. ETO Gitarama is a technical college with an enthusiastic Aussie headmaster. We were treated to a game between them and Ecole Secondaire Ruhango (a local derby) and a treat it was! The field had rugby posts and rugby markings in sawdust! The whole village came out to watch and the level of the game was impressive! The skills matched many of the clubs in and around Rwanda and it was a close win for ETO Gitarama at only 8-5.

Following this up-lifting experience, we visited a street kids centre in Kigali, the lovely boys from Centre Murembo. The first session was memorable if not a little chaotic. The lively boys seemed to enjoy playing with the oval ball whilst practising their Kung-fu at the same time! Since then we introduced them to Tag Rugby which they picked up very quickly and soon demonstrated some cery good skills.
We followed this up with a trip to another Stree Kids Centre, Christ for the Nations. We arrived as they were praying, quite a sight with around 800 kids of various ages singing and dancing! We took about 30 of them, randomly selected and got them passing the ball and evading defense. We hope to start visiting them on a weekly basis to allow more of them to experience and enjoy rugby

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Pumas are a very rural team, none of them have ever seen a game on TV except the coach, Vedaste (Picture 3) who has seen one in 2001. He is 20 and started the team by himself. They had one very worn ball so we gave them another. It is the only field we have seen with rugby posts but is 10km from the main road.
Many play in bare feet against teams with boots, they participate in the club league!

Kigali 2007 (City Market opp Amy’s Fast Food)
Inside the ‘Mall’ with Wireless Internet
Our apartment in the early days!
First night, on the floor (but we have beds now)
The Kigali 3rd Peace Marathon, last Sunday

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Who would have thought that life as a teacher could be so hectc?! The additional responsibilities given to Deena and myself other than teaching, keep us running around all day at school. Lesson planning is a struggle when Deena’s public speaking skills in constant demand, and I have been elected form tutor of the President’s daughter’s class! But we are relishing the challenge!
The weekend’s coaching was not as successful as usual. We arranged to give G.S Shyogwe and St Joseph’s, Kabgayi another training session each in the afternoon and visit a club team, Pumas in the morning. We mistakenly thought that the Puma team was just off the main road on the way to Gitarama. However, it was a full 10km which exhausted both our bodies and our purse. We arrived in Gitarama (the nearest town to both schools) with the equivalent of 50p in our pockets and fifty US dollars. With nowhere to change money we were nearly marooned and were forced to turn back to Kigali to re-organise these sessions.
However, it was great to meet the Puma players, a group of 20 enthusiasts with a 20 year old coach, Vedaste (a former player in my school team). Vedaste started these teams on his own inclination, based on his enjoyment of the game and on the request of the players. They had one ball, extremely worn, not a pair of boots between them or a pair of rugby shorts. However, their enthusiasm was inspirational. Between them, the players have never seen a game of rugby on TV and the coach has seen only the one game I showed in 2001 when initially trying to introduce rugby.
Next week there is a University game between Butare University and a Burundi Univerisity, demonstrating further progress of the game in the region. Deena is the referee and I hope to teach some rules to the young coaches on the sidelines.

A New Life in Rwanda – 26.04.2007

Today, Sunday is our first opportunity to access the internet. The past week has been spent settling into our new jobs. We are now both gainfully employed as teachers at Green Hills school until November. It is a school founded by the President’s wife and attended by their children, and those of the diplomatic community.
The school day starts promtly at 7am and we finish around 5pm. Luckily we get fed, usually full of sugar and carbs and that gets us through the day.  With a new job comes a new home! It is a flat on the 4th floor which has prevented the installation of running water. We pay 20p for 20 liters of water to be brought to us in a jerry can each day. To say it is minimalist is a complete understatement but it is safe and clean. There are other rooms in our block so from now all visitors are welcome to sleep on our floor or have their own apartment for a mere 50 pounds a month!
Onto the most important matter of rugby coaching. We have touched base with about 200 kids, a high percentage of which are street children and they are starting to look like rugby players. Slowly by slowly (Buhoro, buhoro). Yesterday was perhaps one of the more rewarding sessions, we returned to Shyogwe, who are now in their second generation of rugby players. Emma initially taught the seniors there in 2003 and they have gone on to teach the current crop. They have no ‘official’ coach but do the best they can with their limited knowledge and equipment. Our transport involved two changes of bus and a motorcycle ride in torrential rain in inappropriate attire. But upon our arrival the children insisted we head down the valley to get on with the training session. The standard was admirable considering the wet conditions and no-body having a pair of boots. It was slip and slide rugby at it’s finest!
We encountered an amazing girl, Ernestine, who explained to us (despite communication issues) the she had started a female team in her very rural district. During training she proceeded to demonstrate her will and courage by competing vigourously at the breakdown with 18-20 year old men. We would have had the girls separate but they insisted on joining the main group of boys.
So we head into anther week with a possible meeting with Fergal Keane of the BBC, not to mention a hectic week of teaching and coaching! All this while sitting on the floor at home and inhaling potentially poisonous fumes from our small kerosene stove!
We continue to receive offers of coaching assistance from members of the UK public which is great and the potential of this project is starting to become a reality.

The Muddy training session
Lion de Fer
Grizzlies (uni team, four of my former students!)
Line out!

Rwanda Week 1 – 23.04.2007

We’ve been a week in Kigali now, and after several hectic days of meetings (mostly with Celestin of the Rwandan Rugby Federation, but also an unexpected cup of tea with the British Ambassador) we finally saw some rugby!

We attended a very muddy training session with a club team in Kigali and were impressed with the numbers at training and commitment to full contact!  Luckily our arrival co-incided with the start of the 2007 League and this weekend we travelled to Butare for Deena to referee the University team, The Grizzlies, v Kigali based team, Lion De Fer. A close encounter for the first 40 mins saw many attacking raids from both sides repelled with courageous defence. Eventually sheer weight of possession from set piece saw the Lions score 3 un-answered tries. The ref also survived despite the heat, altitude and well concealed line markings!

We are now dressed in our ‘smart’ clothes (mostly donated from the generous League girls!) as we head to a meeting with the Minister of Sport. We hope he will take an interest in our three month plan and assist us to promote rugby.

Arrival in Rwanda 18.04.2007

Deena, Susie and Spire Road

Emma, Lindsay and Main Street (they’re not that big!)
The captain on the run
Prize giving ceremony
The ChampsHere are some more photos from the end of the tour. We are still reflecting on the experience of coaching about 700 kids in 5 days. The final tournament was an amazing success and the skill levels after such a short time suprised us all!
The yellow team is Main Street, coached by Myself and Lindsay. Shame we didn’t do so well ourselves in the Kampala 7s tournament!
We really miss our fellow tourers and felt quite lonely going to get the bus to Rwanda on Monday morning. This soon passed as the bus was cancelled and we were busy changing our travel plans! We eventually caught the bus yesterday (Tuesday) which left an hour and a half late and was delayed near the border with a busted hosepipe. It ended up with a dash for the border before it closed and a late arrival in Kigali at 9pm. Luckily there was a nice enough hotel 100m away for us to recover from the excitment of the journey!
We hope to meet up with the Rwanda Rugby Federation tomorrow and get coaching ASAP.
Some photos of the new, improved Kigali to follow.
Brilliant clearing out by the League Gals!
On the run from the Kenyans!
Lovely try Kirst!

The End of the Tour – 15.04.2007

Wow, what a hectic week!

We are finally at the end of the TRDT tour to Uganda and it has been great!

The week involved two sessions of coaching a day in various schools.

The coaching experience was tiring but very rewarding. All the kids were training in full school uniform (including leather shoes) and picked up the skills very quickly.

The week culminated in a tournament at Junja Rugby club (AKA our campsite) and was a massive success. There were 8 teams involved, each wearing excellent new kit and were highly competetive. It was amazing what was acheived with a relatively short space of time and large numbers of kids compared to limited resources. This has really given us a shot in the arm and shown us what is possible. We hope to have inspired a passion for rugby which will long continue in these children.

We couldn’t bask in the glory of this experence for too long as we were rushing back to Kampala the next day to participate in a 7s tournament. Oh what an experience-us and 10 Great Britain rugby league girls playing against seasoned African 7s experts! We won the collisions and got hammered on the counter attack with pace! A great day none the less!

Tomorrow, we are on the bus and into Rwanda…(only a short 8 hour hop!)

Emma and Deena

Tag Rugby Development Trust Tour to Uganda – 15.04.2007


Deena and I had been relaxing in Uganda for a week when last Friday we were joined by a team of female volunteers Uganda for a Tag Rugby development Trust Tour. Most of the volunteers were representative rugby league players and a great bunch of girls.
This is a charity whom we’ve been working with and we decided to join them on a tour to see what they get up to. (Check for more info)
This was a slightly shorter Tour than they usually run with just one weeks coaching primary school children and building up to the volunteers (us included), competing in an International womens 7’s Tournament in Kampala as a finale this coming weekend.After a couple of days acclimatising (& white water rafting down the Nile which was an extreme method of team bonding) the Tag coaching started for real and it was a hectic start, even for those of us who have coached in Africa before. In the first school we encountered 140 enthusastic children.


Game SensePlayerRaft groupRaft