Academy coach Pete Haynes gives us an update from the 'Changing Lives' programme out in Rwanda.
Once again, I've been very busy...
So much so, day 3 and 4 have flown by. However, looking at my second video blog, you stop to have a think and realise the effect of what we are doing out here.
Unfortunately, I'm writing this blog in the bathroom due to a bout of "Rwandan Fever"... But I won't say anymore.
Particularly because I have too much to say about day 3 and 4 - but I'll try and keep it brief! Especially as next week I am looking to produce another blog on the whole trip having reflected upon it.
Day 3: Wednesday
In the morning, we visited a local primary school which would be the stage for the first real test of the Rwandan coaches! Following on from their course day we delivered, they had to coach the sessions they had learnt and run a knock out or round robin tournament at a local primary school.
Without knowing the number of children, space available or even exactly how long they would have, it would be a really good indicator as to where they were at.
When setting up, they were, for example, very meticulous in how far cones should be put apart, showing real attention to detail. Their confidence to deliver sessions they had learnt only 24 hours earlier was fantastic, and, minor a few interventions and mentoring, they delivered a 2 hour festival that the children really enjoyed.
We were very fortunate in that we got to look around the school, meet pupils and teachers, and gain a greater understanding of the schooling and culture of the country. Again, I think the pictures speak for themselves.
That afternoon, part of the FA team ventured to a local university to deliver an informal football workshop, led by John Heathcote. The idea was to educate the students so that they would understand how planned, informal football (social football) could increase participation in sport. The students were very receptive to the workshop and delivered a tournament out on the pitches - hopefully they can continue to do the same in the coming months.
Day 4: Thursday
Having been spoilt by an amazing welcome (see the opening of my video blog), I realised the love of life and happiness that engulfs the lives of some children in Rwanda, especially as the song and dance was so heartwarming, a truly unforgettable experience. Their song, of which each class had it's own within, was about the country and it's history; again, a real reminder that education is key to the country's development. Having said that, this school was an eye-opening example of the contrast between wealth and poverty that dominates a lot of Africa. Looking at the school, you see no windows, old doors and classrooms, a chalk board and old text books. As you pan round to look across the playing area, you see shanty town after shanty town covering the landscape. However, if you pan back round to look at the school, the landscape that dominates behind is that of skyscrapers and big houses. It is hard to comprehend how so much money can be invested in infrastructure, yet, a school can be so neglected. "Education is key to success", you read on the walls... So why aren't schools invested in?
Anyhow, aside from this realisation, real hope and enjoyment was to follow that morning. The leaders again delivered a festival successfully, showing real growth in their communication and leadership skills. It was great to see. It also illustrated how the Football Futures Changing Lives Programme can help social development through enjoyment of football by children and adults alike.
This was again highlighted that afternoon with the delivery of yet another festival, this time to Dream Academy. Without wanting to repeat myself, the leaders did a great job and even relished in the challenge of learning a new session game. Again, with slight bits of mentoring and help, the leaders grew a little but more again as coaches.
I think it's important to note that the FF Changing Lives Programme returned to Rwanda this year to try and ensure longevity to the project. With myself and three other FA coaches delivering to 16 new Rwandan coaches and leaders with the help and guidance of Steve Swallow, John Heathcote and Donna McIvor, the 20 coaches who were on the programme last year are involved in a Vauxhall Mash-Up Programme this year, delivered by Matt Jones, Sharon Muxworthy and Dominic Best. By all accounts, their programme is so far a success too with the leaders ever growing and developing.
My next and final blog will be some point next week and will focus on day 5 (Friday), and the true impact this whole journey has had on me. It is difficult at this point to summarise and speak about the trip as I am yet to reflect fully on what, so far, has been an unforgettable experience.
Having said that, so far it seems we we really are starting to help change lives in Africa...