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
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
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.
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.
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