After couple days in Kigali, it was time to head back to the East, where we schedule our first Coaching Clinic. Savannah Motel offered their conference room so we could run the clinic. On Monday all the coaches from each site showed up ready to go. We provided notebooks, pens and equipments. 3 coaches from each site were present during the clinic. We began with a pre-test to see where their levels were. First they were a little bit confused because they had never seen or read about what we were teaching except Patrick who is the head coach in Wrinkwavu site. Patiently communicating with them, they started to understand the concepts. Patrick was very supportive by translating for the ones who didn’t clearly understand. We covered the characteristics of a coach on Monday which basically sums the leadership that a coach must present to his players. The other point was about the preparation of a coach before and after practice such as practice plans, being on time, how to make your players respect you, and also how to teach the kids fundamentals. Our second major point was the rules in basketball and basics, which was covered on Tuesday in the classroom and also on the court. Wednesday we came up with a game that encouraged the coaches to revise their notes and memorize the main keys. During the game, two groups of coaches were facing each other, and one coach from each group would stand by the end of the table listening carefully to the question that I was going to ask. The first to hit the table had the chance to answer first. The game got really intense because by the end it was a tied game. They all understood the materials taught in class. We ended up asking one more question for the winner and at the end team 2 won. Therefore they received prizes sponsored by NBA in Africa. Lisanne and I appreciate the help of our country director Isaura who came and supervised the work.
The best news for these past 3 weeks is that constructions in Gahini for the new court have began and so far we are half way trough it. Emmy, the contractor is doing a wonderful job by getting the court done before the students come back from break. We estimate having the court ready within the next couple of weeks. Emmy has been working with Shooting Touch since the beginning, so he has an idea about what we are looking for when it comes to a good and long-lasting court. What impresses me the most is the way they get water to mix the cement and soil. They stacked the rocks and soil in one spot until it reaches 3 to 4 feet high, then they make a hole on the top and cover it with trash bags so they can collect water from the rain. For that reason, they will not have to buy expensive water.
I like hanging out around them and talking to them about work every time I get there. Some of them are students and they decide to work on the field to make make money until school starts. David is one of the youngest workers out there finishing his last year of secondary school, and he is really enjoying working there because he will be playing with his age group once we start training. In other words I am impressed with the men working really hard on the field and I get really excited when I get to Gahini and supervise the work.
Another event that happened was the construction of the backboard in SACCA known as Streets Aheads. They needed their Backboard to be hung somewhere in the playing area but they couldn’t hang them around the houses because it wouldn’t be able to resist. Therefore, we helped them bring the backboard up so the kids could shoot around. Also, Lisanne and I volunteered to help SACCA on and of the court. Lisanne goes there every Monday from 2 to 3:30 PM to talk to the girls about life and especially what women need to learn about today’s society. Every Wednesday and Friday from 2 to 3:30 PM I take care of the basketball recreation at the Kayonza Youth Friendly Center. They were really excited to play because the day after they showed up with their Jerseys and shoes ready to role. They are really smart kids and they learn very quick what I teach them. Last time we went to visit, they were repeating the same exact thing I taught them in practice and it made me smile big.
As mentioned in the previous Blog, I have nominated the players of the week on each court and these ones are the ones who come to practice everyday and on time, who pay attention, hard worker and very disciplined.
From Kayonza Week One
Nkundwa Thierry: 14 years old, Primary
Mutsinzi James: 16 years old, Secondary
Week 2 Cyubhiro Ally: 13 years old, Primary
Ndahiro Abraham: 14 years old, Secondary
Kagabo Oscar: 16 years old: Secondary
From Rukara Week 1 and 2
Muhozi Sam: 13 years old Primary
Kutikanfa Gedeon: 12 years old, Primary
Abimfura David: 12 years old, Primary
After this experience I have noticed the number of kids on each site has increased and now everyone wants to be Player of the Week. I gear them up with NBA Africa sponsored by Amadou Fall and Athletes In Action (AIA) sponsored by my dearest friend Megan Soderberg.
The highlight from this past three weeks was the near meeting of the Rwandan President, General Paul Kagame, in Kayonza right by my location. After practice I stepped outside my apartment and saw many people standing there and waiting for a long period of time. Curious, I asked someone what was going. He answered, “The President is going home and he will pass here so people wanted to see his car and the escort.” Without hesitation I waited as well because I wanted to see the Presidential escort and compare it to other countries escorts. The first escort passed to clear the road and then the president’s car approached really fast. When the driver got close to the inhabitants, he slowed down and literally stopped in front us. We expected to see an officer, a chauffeur or a body guard come out of the car but NO! The President himself was driving his own car, stopped in the middle of the road, got out and start talking to the inhabitants who ran to him to just shake his hand. He spoke to almost 300 hundred Rwandans asking them about their district and what they needed. I was shocked to see that reaction from a president and I really appreciate what he did because you don’t see that very often.