Although the fun coaching cricket on a CWB tour is a given, over the two weeks when we were delivering the HIV/AIDS awareness messages you could see the kids we were coaching taking in what was being said – it was amazing to visibly see on their faces how they put the pieces of the jigsaw together – ‘protect your wicket – protect yourself – wear a condom’. One thing I didn’t anticipate before going out there was the ‘social development of people’ aspect to the work we were doing, aside from the HIV Awareness messages. For me the thing that stood out was inclusion of everyone no matter what their background, very pertinent in Rwanda given its past, in playing cricket – which is one of the main reasons I love the game so much. I really loved the way we had sessions where girls and boys were participating on an equal footing. Now coaching Cricket in Rwanda, where football and basketball reign supreme, is a new sport to learn both for the boys and the girls – the fact they get to learn the new game together placed them as equals, and a chance to gain mutual respect. In the knowledge that Eric and Ange were going to continue doing this work, I wanted to see what I could do taking inspiration from them back in the UK.
I did some research and came across ‘Street Chance’, a ‘Cricket for Change’ initiative which runs weekly sessions of tapeball cricket in inner city areas, where there are high rates of anti-social behaviour and youth crime. The project gets young cricket coaches from the area, and encourages kids to get off the streets, attend the session and learn key social lessons in life through playing cricket. I went to a Street Chance inter- London borough tournament where I met Tim, who runs London Street Chance, and Paul who coaches the Brent sessions to kids between the ages of 10-16. I totally loved the fact that the tournament was run with loud sound system blaring out, and knowing what the project aimed to do I wanted to get involved. I have been helping out with Paul’s sessions, along with Mushy, a previous Street Chance participant, who loved it so much decided to take his coaching badges and is currently undertaking a sports education qualification at college. Mushy is evidence of how this type of work, can develop people both with their social development and cricket skills. Through this I am undertaking my ECB Level 1 coaching qualification, and want to get more girls participating and playing cricket so that they can too benefit from what the project delivers.
Since coming back from Rwanda, CWB have launched the ‘Women In Cricket’ project which I am fortunate enough to be a part of with fellow CWB volunteers Holly Colvin (England/Sussex Cricketer), Carys Davis (Umpire) and Hannah Weaver (CWB Board Member). As the title suggests we are working with the team to increase the female participation in the game, both in encouraging more women to volunteer with CWB and to get more women in the countries we were working with involved in the game. Although in its infancy at the moment it’s a project I am massively proud to be involved with, not only because I want to see more females getting involved with cricket, but also because it works towards the social development of females and striving to get gender equality is a key facet in trying to combat and reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS.
A year ago, although I loved to watch cricket I had never played it. I volunteered with CWB because I wanted to make a difference, help others and do it in a fun way. What I learnt from CWB is that no matter what your background both socially and in cricket, we can all work together to make a positive change for others.'