Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. We have been extremely busy and for those loyal followers, you know that I am without power more times than I have it. But it’s all part of the experience!
So the kids have been on school break out here since the beginning of February so now it’s back to business as usual for them. We all know what it’s like to have summer break and no one ever wants to go back to school at that age. But I am confident that the kids will do well and continue the curriculum with us even with all of their school work. However, we will have to modify our schedules to work around their school time. We were practicing first thing in the morning and again in the afternoon. Now we will have to practice just in the afternoons when they are done school. But this also means that the leagues will be starting up soon as well. I am very excited about that.
I went back to Sacca recently but this time I brought one of my coaches, Christian, with me. The most difficult part of me going there was the language barrier because these young ladies do not speak any English at all. And even though I speak their language some, it wasn’t always enough. At times it felt like they were looking at as if I had three heads! 🙂 So Christian was a great help as he translated everything for me and for them as well.
I created a video demonstrating ‘A Day in the Life of a Shooting Touch Fellow’. I hope you all had a chance to view it. It truly does give you a first-hand look at how life out here truly is. The video speaks louder than any words I can express. For those of you that missed it, here’s the link:
I love it when I get to reward the youth with sneakers. This one little lady was so shy. She thought I was a cop. 🙂 I don’t know why she thought that, but it was cute. She was pretty happy with her new sneakers. I heard her run off after I gave them to her and she was dancing all around in them. I also rewarded a little boy, who is about 3 years old, near my house with a pair of the sneakers that were too small for any of the Shooting Touch players. Everyday when I walk to my house he comes running to me to give me a hug and say “How are you?”. He has come running after me in the dark, and even when he was upset and crying he came running up to me. He is the cutest little boy, and he can always make me smile. When I gave him the sneakers he gave me a thumbs up and had the biggest smile on his face. That is one of the reasons I love what I am doing here in Rwanda.
I played in my first official basketball game here in Rwanda for Ubumwe BBC. I had a slow start, but finished okay. I think my stats were 9 points, 10 rebounds. We ended up winning that game. The second game I played in wasn’t as good, but I worked hard and that’s what I tell my players that is important. I have to live by what I teach. The other team was so big, I focused on rebounding and on my defense the most that game, and I guess I did something right because we won again. And we ended up winning the whole tournament! Our In-Country Program Director Lisanne was even named the MVP of the tournament, representing Shooting Touch in the best way. 🙂
We held a Referring clinic out here in Kayonza in the last few weeks of January. I think it went well overall. All of the coaches were very engaged in the clinic. They were asking lots of questions and paying attention to everything Matt and I had to teach them. It was great to see them so absorbed in this information and taking it all in to better them selves as coaches and to become great referees with Shooting Touch.
So I have been continuing the recruiting process out here in Kayonza, trying to get more girls involved. I visited two new schools, New Life and IPM, to help promote Shooting Touch. Not only do I strongly believe that you can never have too many players; but, I also feel that it is important for these young individuals to see not only a Shooting Touch representative out recruiting, but a female at that. I hope by doing this, the female youth out here recognize that dreams do come true with hard work and perseverance. I know I will continue to persevere at recruiting because we have so much to offer these youth. I want to ensure that I have touched as many lives as I possibly can out here. The positive reactions, support and love that these kids show me is evidence that we are definitely doing things right! Students at both schools were very excited to join us. I hope to see many new faces on the courts in the coming days. If I don’t, it will just require another visit back to the schools to encourage them again to come out and participate.
One incentive that I have used for the current youth that participate is to reward them for helping to recruit more female players by bringing a new female player to each practice. After two weeks of practices, the player that brought a new female to the most practices will be rewarded with a prize. The kids seemed excited to help out, so I will check back in when I have a winner and have some new numbers to report.
You have to love and respect the enthusiasm of the young kids here in Rwanda. Some of the younger kids that are not even old enough to participate in Shooting Touch show more dedication to the program than those that are in the program. There is a little guy is just 6 years old but he is definitely a Baller in training! He shows up to the court every day. He tries so hard to dribble the ball between his legs. When he does, he just throws his leg over the ball. It is adorable because the ball is almost as big as he is.
March is going to be a big month for us here in Rwanda. We have a huge tournament planned for International Women’s Day, and we will be helping to promote women’s rights and women empowerment. Along with this big tournament we will be having lots of guests from the states coming to join us and help. Lindsey Kittredge, Shooting Touch Co-founder and Director, will be coming out for a visit. When she comes out, she will be bringing a group of girls from Nobles High School in Massachusetts, and Shooting Touch’s G3 Boston Coaches with her. I am hoping their visit will help to encourage more female participation at our courts. We will be having another guest coming out as well in March, Leah Westbrooks. Leah was the second recipient of the Shooting Touch Fellowship. Her fellowship was before Shooting Touch was established in Rwanda. So for her to come and be able to see how much Shooting Touch has grown since she was a fellow, and how much Matt and I are trying to help build the program is truly exciting to see!
I am excited to see, not only what our VIP guests have to contribute to improving the great happenings in Rwanda, but to get feedback as well on how they think Matt, Lisanne, and I are doing out here. We all face different hurdles every day but we persevere through it all. Our visitors may be able to bring some new insight to what we are already doing. Team Work makes the Dream Work!
Keep up the great work guys! I am very proud of everyone back in the states contributing to the success of Shooting Touch. Here are some of the most recent photos we took after practice of everyone just having a good time! I have to admit, one of my favorite photos is the homage to Steven Q. Irked if the hit television show “Family Matters”… Til next time, Enjoy! 🙂