Sunday, 11 May 2008

Flirtation and Manipulation

Dancing GoGo & Equipment Coup
It's hard to imagine before you live it that you would be missing a mattress on a floor and pigs. Whilst I'm at it I miss my host family, my rugby team and even the pap. I miss that community. As for the pap I can explain; I was getting used to it. Here, Community 4 which I will get on to, they eat it soft- it's like a savoury semolina pudding; vomit.
The rugby team and I travelled to Musina which is on the border of Zimbabwae and very hot. As my friend suggested my time of travel was a little off; being a white English girl in a taxi with lots of very black South Africans. You see with the British the number 1 enemy and half of my boys not owning SA citizen identify documents I could have languished in Zim jail for a long time for human trafficking. Luckily they were too pre occupied with the scandalous election process to bother, which is a relief I guess, but would have made one hell of a blog addition..
Ah the taxi. We were to be collected at 7am by the mini bus taxi to transport us the couple of hours North. We know that a squad of 20 and 2 extras really should be transported in, to be honest, a 22 seater taxi- but this is Africa. When the 15 seater pulled up, already full and I and 5 others had to get in with the kit, I threw a short prayer upwards. 3 of us sat on 1.5 seats and travelled along 'roads' I throw that word tentatively, because a road usually is straight and doesn't involve dropping a couple of feet down into potholes.. Thankfully the ridiculousness of the situation was not lost on the driver who arranged some bigger transport, shame we had to drive 1 hour to get it.
Messina Rugby Club was a revelation. Having trained on some waste ground behind the facility which contained a huge pole in the middle running live electricity (when it was turned on) up it, it felt like I had rocked up at Esher! Club house, changing rooms, an immaculate pitch and some wonderful coaching stuff. The team was made up of black South Africans and very talented ones, their two coaches were very knowledgeable, helpful and will be great contacts for SOS Kit Aid. They also looked like rugby players; whereas mine look more like street fighters. I asked the coach if we could spend some time at the beginning with both packs going through scrummaging for the sake of safety. We did and props to the Messina boys who taught their 'to be' opposition with patience and genuine sportsmanship, insofar as helping them during the game. We lost 43-12, but the improvement was 100%. The game flowed and my street fighters did me proud. They tackled, not body checked and they ran. Only 3 of them have shoes to play in, the rest play bare foot. When my star back got his bare foot caught under a pile of boots he swallowed back the tears and continued to play; I saw the post game bruising- he was a soldier. It was Lucky that scored the two tries. Lucky is a black version of Fred Priggs in stature and in the way he plays. He also has better chat than Fred which is funny because he can only speak about 10 English words... :)
After the game the boys were more reflective, the prayed together (can you imagine that happening at home?!) and then discussed tactics and improvements. I introduced the concept of 'man of the match' and Lucky was awarded with a huge bar of Dairy Milk, was thrilled. I think we are a way off initiations and club curries but it's in the Grand Plan... (more on that later.. Collins you will be consulted ha!.)
We trained the last week and it was only a day before my last day that most realised I was leaving. Coaching can be a universal language, understanding I was actually leaving the community was harder for them to fathom. I decided to go to the Municipality and see the Sports and Recreation Officer and see what arrangements I could put in place in terms of sustaining this. The Messina coaches had already agreed to come down I just need to find petrol money. Whilst I was there I noticed what looked like a Gilbert tackle bag... I went digging and low and behold it was. Sitting in the office was a tackle bag! Taking my opportunity when he was out the office I had a hunt around and found also 4 Gilbert body shields and a stack of cones. Deciding attack was the best form of defence I staged an equipment coup and piled it in one corner, wearing one of the vests. When he returned I gave a full demonstration of the uses of the equipment and told him, directly, but with some charm, I would not be leaving his office without these things.
The fear of course was that it would be stolen in a community; my counter argument that it was an ugly dust collector. I think I deployed the following skills and in no particular order: manipulation, coercion, charm, flirtation and maybe put some fear into the staff members as I ran up and down the hall of the Municipality demonstrating how to use a tackle bag. A painful 4 hours later I had the equipment released and drove to the community feeling extremely pleased with myself. To show people you give a shit you need to give them some responsibility and respect and this was a sign of it. Having been to the school of these boys it was not hard to see why some were so behind in their education. It was like a prison, I visited on 4 separate days and only half the teachers were ever present. One depressing hole. No teacher, you just sit in your classroom, all day, and then leave. Seriously it was not acceptable and my boys need a teacher. I got the Principal to agree to hand them out certificates in Assembly. Certificates are extremely well received and motivational in this country... I wish I could be there to see there embarrassed pride..
That night I was pretty euphoric and danced with the family to some hardcore house music that is very popular; me and the gogo (Grandma) really rocked out. Imagine I'm sure those lucky enough to know my dancing will be cringing at the thought- I went for it.
The tournament was the best so far and after the initial stresses I enjoyed the day... I was sad to leave on the Friday; it's hard to make and break so many friendships all the time. The Police came down and put off the all day drinkers.. which is nice because it saved me reverting to the trick of pinching someone's hand who won't let go of it. Drunk pests... they are a global menace. When we finally said our goodbyes to leave we realised the trailer lights did not work; there is always something. We spent over 2 hours getting that fixed. One of the volunteers had his bank card scanned ... someone went on a spree; drained his account of £5000... a vast sum in UK let alone SA. They bought stuff for a house, half a liqor shop and a lot of clothes. Money is gone, trail is cold. I'm not too worried about that considering all someone would get if they tried to overspend on my card would be a letter from my bank regarding charges and the student loan company on them. Things don't change. All the volunteers have now had their phones stolen (one of them has 3 times), so for me it's just a waiting game. Aowa.

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