Cricket Without Boundary's - David Gidney's Story


To everyone who supported me,
 
I got back to Devon from Cameroon a week ago. After three weeks of blissful good health, the journey back was a little gruesome. I will spare the grisly details but suffice to say I spent a majority of the twelve hour flight somewhere other than my seat. But now, much recovered, it is time to give you all a short account of the trip and to thank you for your support. The full story is of course longer and more colourful, better told at leisure and over a fireside pint or two, but I hope this will give you a flavour. Together, you raised the splendid sum of £1,889 and 37 pence and I want you all to know how this contributed towards the success of this venture.
 
My team was unusual, in that there were five of us and I was the only bloke. Lady Tracey, CWB veteran, from Ickenham was the other cricket coach. Two other team members, mad Becky and super-efficient Anouck, were French speakers and were to prove vital. Our fifth member, Jo, is the Country Manager and conducting a PhD on sport and development in the country. Our mighty team personified Cricket Without Boundaries, nobody excluded, in a culture where women are often second-class citizens. Cameroon is soccer-mad but has a national team and a cricket association (FECACRICKET). We were helped by several of their young coaches over the two weeks, all members of the Indomitable Lions when they take on Mali, Rwanda, Ghana, Morocco, the Seychelles and St Helena, good players, full of energy, perfect role models. Notable among them was Winston Ndum (alias Kallis), 23 year old CWB cricket ambassador, cool as 007 and a smart mover at the ABC dancing, of which more below.
 
Cameroon assaulted the senses from the very start; hot, green, humid, a madcap reel of sights and sounds. Road-sides lined with myriad items for sale, roads packed with battered yellow taxis and over-loaded motor-bike taxis weaving between potholes; colourfully dressed men, women and children carrying food and other goods on their heads. Unusual smells. The capital, Yaounde built like Rome on seven hills, is a jumbled mix of avant-garde concrete architecture and wooden shacks covered in iron roofs; chickens and goats wandered past the Hilton hotel.
 
The project spent one week in the capital and a second in the cooler south-western hill station of Buea, surrounded by tea plantations at the base of an active volcano, Mount Cameroon. In each location, we started the week training the teachers at the schools which we then visited during the subsequent days. There were three or four school visits each day, never quite knowing what to expect at each. Sometimes we had 80 kids, at another 200; ages seven to seventeen in the same school. Playing areas fields of dry red dust and stone, carved from school yards or perched between houses and banana trees. By the end, we would be joined by dozens of passers-by, all taking part if possible. Instant mayhem, then home in the late afternoon, for Strepsils, Guinness, some food and an early night beneath the mosquito nets.