Week two has continued to be busy, with both SKRUM and the national team having important dates coming up.
Mike and Linda’s Sunday roast made Swaziland feel like home from home, and I have been given some Swazi drinks recipes to take back with me which I’m sure will go down well back at uni!
We started the week organising the latest u16 tournament, this time for the capital city Mbabane. Mbabane is the largest city over here, but is relatively small compared with places back home. Malindi (one of the Swazi coaches) and I travelled to several schools in the area who we thought would be interested in taking part in the tournament, advising that we would come and train their selected team on the Tuesday for the tournament on the Wednesday. These training sessions were the first time I have properly coached on my own – Malindi would train the girls who were to take part (there must be 2 girls in every team of 7) and I would train the boys.
The training started quite slowly, and it was clear that some of the schools had not been playing much outside of the SKRUM program. However there was some clear natural talent, and a love for the game. We focused on the basics first – passing backwards (which one girl would only remember after having passed forward and then immediately shouting “Sorry! Sorry!”), calling for the ball, and not panicking when getting tagged as to build up phases. The reception was great at the training session – despite each school only needing a squad of 12, we were coaching up to 30, and many more watching.
At the tournament on Wednesday, Malindi and I took turns to referee the hard fought encounters, with the schools becoming very competitive with some headmasters even coming down to watch. There was a huge improvement in the skills shown compared with the previous day, notably when the smallest kid playing, a 9 year old who couldn’t have been taller than 3ft, side stepped passed 3 guys twice his size, to score from the half way line – Malindi and I had previously discussed whether he should even be playing! The tournament was won by a school called Ntuthukweni, and myself, Malindi and the coaches decided who would win the prizes for girl and boy players of the tournament.
On the Saturday, the National team had their last training session before they head to Botswana this week for their International Test match. I again worked with the backs, running through the moves and tactics for the game.
The hostel I am staying at has also been busy, with a group of 50 staying for a few days, with a strong ratio of 40 girls and 10 boys! There were also a group of German guys to watch the Euro’s with and an English girl to watch the rugby – all in all a social crowd.