Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Coach Carter

Bouffleshoek- Call me Coach Carter...

If this is all supposed to have been a 'honeymoon' period; then I'm sure never to marry. This past 3 months (I cannot believe it is only 3 months) has been filled with more experiences, 'challenges,' and huge problems dressed up as 'challenges' than I care to recall. The Mid term which involved all volunteers and management within the organisation was certainly a lesson in conflict resolution and patience. Ah, patience. That wondrous virtue to which I have never been blessed... but I'm getting there. This is Africa; it really is not worth getting stressed.

I needed a good community, the come down from parents leaving and the thought of getting back into work after a break was not a good feeling, but there was a saviour to be found in Bouffleshoek- Community 3. The journey to the community was not as smooth as anticipated... here in South Africa we are affected badly by powercuts nearly everyday. This is not good when your colleague goes to withdraw a significant sum for petrol and payment of host families and as the machine whirls to dispense the cash; the power goes. With a combi full of volunteers and a 'visitor' from the Norwegian Olympic Committee the timing really could not have been more off. Which is why I found myself sitting in a deserted high street (think 1980's town centre) with two 'security' guards for 3.5 hours waiting for power to see if card/money would come out. Fear not, I was entertained with a minute by minute account of a film called Ospehia in London (Nigerian film; I won't ruin the plot... runs for about 2 hours judging by this man's account). As the power returned the card popped out but no money. Worth the wait?

Yes. I said the other day without thinking too much about what I was saying ' I love this community; I can run in the mornings, I can go to the toilet, they bring me hot water twice a day to wash and they feed me nice chicken.' Marte laughed and said isn't funny how you really appreciate the simple things. I love this community even more because there is a rugby team. Well, they are a team now. Half of them have never watched a game of rugby but they try. On the first day I was there at 4, by 4.45 I had 10 boys. 3 days later I had 30 boys at 4pm.... and had them taking their caps off. They are hilarious. Their English is appalling, most of them are 19 but still in Grade 9 or 10, one of them has failed Grade 9 a spectacular 4 times. We really have made progress and had their first game was today! They lost 20-0 not bad considering they can't scrum and one of them ran backwards a whole 50 metres, dropped the ball and the opposition scored. Who needs to win when you have my camera, a coach and music. 400 photos, some serious dancing, too many E numbers when we returned to the community; they were welcomed like heroes. Win or lose these boys had the privilege today to feel like a team, and I loved being part of it. We are training everyday next week before the next game; I asked if they wanted a break to rest and they said they did not believe in pain. Love it. They make me very happy; a welcome distraction from other stresses. What is also great is that no one can take it away from me; no one else knows rugby.

Yesterday I ran a workshop; so I asked my host brother to bring the bag of balls down.. I knew the boys would be there so I thought they could at least throw a ball around until I got there. I was an hour later and what I didn't expect to see was that they had set up a grid (like we practised the day before) and were running an attack/defence exercise. My chest nearly exploded with pride.

We are playing a huge team from the border (Zim) on Saturday. My boys will be dominated but I really don't think they care too much. I for one am just proud to be a part of it. My host brother who is still in Grade 9 at 19 years of age and I sat together to do his work. It dawned on me quite quickly that he can't read.. barely his own language and nothing in English. He is an amazing athlete and great with kids.. so I'm trying to find out what other opportunities he has. I gave him money for a dictionary (Sa Pedi to English) because he just needs to get to Grade 11 to get a job. Then I have to show him how to actually use a dictionary but I think it will help. But then I think maybe it won't. Maybe I bought him the dictionary to make me feel better, on his behalf. Which is a shame, because it didn't work- I don't feel better for him! I'm going to find it very hard to leave this community, the family and my friends here. Sometime you long for the safety of home, and being paid by the hour and the chance to switch off from it all. I'm such a long way from that it is quite a sobering thought...

They scored two tries... at the weekend.... WOOOOOOOPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

No comments: