It was an early start this morning for the Conservation Cup training day with our alarm going at 06.30. Everybody managed to get showered and ready in a reasonable time and we all went to the Safari Hostel for breakfast. While we were there Yowasi rang me to ask me if we could pick up some pupils from Katunguru as it would save some time. I told him that we could probably manage to transport six pupils in our two vehicles.
We drove down to Katunguru where I met Ramathan and told him we could take 6 pupils. Six pupils duly appeared and we fitted them on the vehicles. Geoffrey, our driver told us that he could fit another couple of pupils in so the PE teacher was sent to get them. From the rear view mirror of my car, I could see that more than two pupils had got on, but I didn’t realise that twenty people were actually squeezed into the Hiace van. When we arrived at Kyambura and the bus emptied, I thought I was hallucinating.
As usually happens in Uganda, the training day didn’t start on time, but when we did get going it was a lot of fun. I looked over to the football pitches where Nick and Ash were playing warm up games with the children and there seemed to be an awful lot of laughter from the children as they were playing head, shoulders, knees and toes. Over at the rugby pitches there was a little bit of trouble with the children understanding my south London drawl, but as soon as Mrs Green and I modelled some of the games the children got the idea and performed well.
Once we got on to playing small-sided tag rugby games, I was incredibly impressed with how much the children’s skills have progressed over the last couple of years. Some of the children’s lines of running, passing and support play was a joy to behold.
At the end of the morning, the children were given some time to prepare their conservation presentations for tomorrow before going to lunch. We were all introduced to Robert, the district sports officer, who thanked us for all of our hard work supporting the children. Robert confirmed for us that there was an abundance of talent in the district, but the teachers needed training to ensure that the children got the best coaching possible. He is very keen for Nick and I to go and meet with him next week.
Robert also told me, completely unprompted, that he is also a senior figure in the scouts and that he was at the meeting when all the scouts clothing and badges that Mrs Prior had collected for them was handed out. He said that the uniform had made an enormous difference to the motivation of the scouts and asked for his thanks to be passed on to Mrs Prior for all her hard work. Mrs Prior, I hope you’re reading this – Well done!
The afternoon session was a close mirror of the morning session with lots of good work by the children and some great skill. Both Ash and Nick thought that the Ugandan children had so much natural talent that given the coaching opportunities that English children get they would be fantastic all round sportsmen.
The afternoon session ended at just after 16.00 and we headed back to Mweya with two vehicles full of Ugandans. When we got back, we had a brief meeting with Ronald confirm our itinerary and to sign the visitors book.
As we prepared to go down to dinner, we were interrupted by twenty plus elephants entering our garden including the two smallest calves I’ve ever seen. Ash summed up the day by saying,
“What an amazing day I’ve had. I’ve coached 80 Ugandan children and had twenty elephants in my back garden. How do you top that?
Tomorrow is the Conservation Cup tournament itself. Who will be the champions?