I Have Found my Home

It has been a successful week! It feels great to get things done and I feel like this week Remy and I have made some major progress in the development of the youth league. Our main focus was first finding coaches at each site, and then meeting with them to discuss plans for the year and their role.  Being that there is such a huge language barrier, it is tough to coach the kids without someone present to translate.  Shooting Touch and the former grantees have done a great job thus far in finding at least one coach per site; however, now that we are creating the league our goal is to get 4 at every location. We have been asking around and had our main coaches bring along a few other potential coaches to our meeting this past weekend.  It’s funny I told everyone 4 o’clock, and I received messages from all of them saying “4 AM or PM?”  Later I found out that I should have said 16h because one of the coaches showed up in the morning (lesson learned).

Kids and Coaches
Kids and Coaches

Remy and I covered everything from being on time to practice, to traveling to Kigali for the final tournament of the year.

We had a couple of young kids (16/17 year olds) come out which isn’t ideal, but we are happy to have them. They can gain experience and help coach the younger children.  Remy and I plan to hold a coaching clinic throughout the month of November to ensure everyone is qualified to coach.  If they follow through with the clinic, they will in turn receive a certificate, a whistle, and possibly a polo (working on that).

At the practice following the meeting, one of the younger “coaches” (Cedrik) brought a whistle to
practice and was ready to go.  I was so proud of him!!  Cedrik ran drills, had an attendance sheet, and was my personal translator.  He would sneak into 1 or 2 ball handling drills and would quickly go back to coaching.  Besides being extremely helpful, it was just too precious.  The poor kid even fell and chipped his tooth but held it in his hand and continued to coach. Rem and I also made our way to a designer this past week so we can get our gear!! Although working on a design took some time and was a tad irritating (again, language barrier), we came up with a design and placed our order!

Meeting in Gahini
Meeting in Gahini

We have 300 t-shirts, 150 business cards, 100 sweatbands, and 2 polo shirts on the way!  Remy and decided that the sweatbands would be our ‘swag’ for the 2014-2015 year in Rwanda.  I’m hoping our budget allows us to order some more throughout the year.

Lastly, we met with a potential contractor for our court construction at Gahini secondary school. What a smooth meeting!  The contractor spoke French, and Remy was able to go through the quoting process without any problems.  I mean, I can understand a bit so I held my own, but I let Remy handle this one.  The end price that we came up with was a lot less than what we expected, so our hopes are to either build an additional court or refurbish a few other courts.

Other than meetings, Remy and I have gone our own ways and have been coaching at different sites.  I miss my bud already!  For the past week I have been at Nyamirama  and Rwinkwavu.
It’s tough sometimes because the kids literally have no idea what I’m saying and my Kinyarwanda only goes so far.  At one point I was telling the kids “kumurungo hano na kumurungo hano” (A line here, and a line here) and they all started cracking up.  It wasn’t until mid practice that Cedrik
finally told me it was ‘kumorongo’ not ‘kumurungo’ (really guys?)  I guess as long as they understand me it works.

Cuties at Nyamirama
Cuties at Nyamirama

We also had a surprise guest at this practice!  A cow nonchalantly walked onto the court.  I was in the middle of a drill and I looked behind me and there he/she was, standing in the middle of the court, simply hanging out.  As the kids laughed at me for having sympathy with the animal one of the kids forced it back into the grass.  Besides the cows and goats surrounding practice, the thing I really love about that court is the kids’ willingness to try.   Although their skill for the game needs some work, they have positive attitudes and great spirits.  As I rode the moto to practice last Tuesday I was trying figure out how I would survive practice without one of my coaches present.  Once I pulled up to the court, one of the really young kids (Treasure) ran up to me and wrapped his little arms around my knees.  With that, my worries were gone and I couldn’t help but smile.  The simple things such as that hug make the cold bucket showers and the crowded bus rides seem so miniscule.

Going from Nyamirama to Rwinkwavu is a completely different atmosphere.  We have 3 practices a day and there are usually 12 kids at each practice.  This makes it easier to handle, plus they have been spoiled with coaches throughout the past 3 years so they are pretty advanced.  I like to start practice with a communication activity, or something fun to get them going.  The other day we had broken the kids up into 2 teams.   [The activity goes as follows; each team picks one person to be blind folded.  After the coach spins that kid around, he/she has to pick up the pylon placed in the corner at the other end of the court.  Their teammates help them get to the pylon without touching him/her, only by means of communication.  Whichever team finishes first, wins.]  The kids had never played this game before so we really had a blast.

Activities at Rwink
Activities at Rwink

As each kid took their turn with the blindfold, their smiles grew.  Once a team won they would raise their hands in the air, start shouting and run like they had just won a gold medal.  It was priceless.  Although fun, we need to play some ball!  The kids in Rwink have been working on playing in transition.  Today there was one breakthrough moment where the ball was given to the point guard in transition, he passed it up the wing to the guard, and the guard was able to finish with a lay up.  Although this doesn’t seem like much, it is!  They are learning to play to their strengths and with their teammates, a concept foreign to many young players.

Besides coaching, I have finally settled in! Rem and I are still traveling to Kigali on the weekends for meetings and design, but we have found a place to call home (even if just for a short time).  Speaking of traveling, the other day I was on the, yet again, crowded bus, and the woman beside me seemed very intrigued with my hair (which happens often).  First she started playing with my baby hair, so I thought “meh, why not”, as I let my hair out of its messy bun.  Next thing I know she was caressing my hair over and over again!  Rem, Isa and I were all cracking up.

Apparently my hair wasn’t enough as she started touching my thigh.  I think she was curious about my skin, so curious that she just left her hand on my thigh for a solid 10 minutes (doesn’t happen often).  Again, couldn’t help but break into laughter.  Eventually she removed her hand and listened to music on my Iphone for the rest of the trip.

Making friends on the bus.
Making friends on the bus.

Ahh good times…  Anyways, back to my new home!  This place is awesome!  We have wifi (which is the biggest plus), a toilet and a fridge; I am satisfied.   It feels good to put my clothes in drawers and buy groceries.  Just down the road Mama Lucy sells veggies, rice, bread, etc.  She is a huge fan of the Shooting Touch coaches so she always gives us a big hug when we walk in.  Let’s just say, I make multiple stops there almost everyday.

I’ve got myself into a little routine: every morning I drink my coffee and usually make an omelet with avocado on the side, then I head to practice. Can’t ask for a better way to start the morning!  You would be surprised at how quickly you adapt once you get yourself into a routine.

It feels like I get more and more comfortable while I’m writing these blogs and thinking of my experiences within the past week.  I can’t wait to see what these next few weeks have in store for Rem and I!

Btw,  I am starting to keep pictures of the random American stars I see on advertisements that are not even closely correlated to what they do.  So far I’ve seen Ludacris for hair, Johnny Depp advertising sunglasses, and Kate Hudson and Hilary Duff’s picture in a random frame.

Talk soon!


No Caption needed.
No Caption needed.

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