With the teachers on strike in Swaziland, coaching in schools has been a bit more difficult this week! However we have organised training days for the communities with great turnout and success.
This week we have done 3 sessions all over the country, giving me a great chance to see some more of Swaziland. At one training session, each of us coaches, Malindi, Wilson, Josh and I took a team each to play one another, and it was nice to take the chance to side step Josh to score a try in one of the games and show him how us Southerners play proper rugby!
We also managed to do a beginners session at a school, with the language barrier providing some entertainment as we told the two teams that whichever team lost a certain drill would have to run to the fence, ended up in all of the kids running to the fence half way through! The headmaster of the school was also getting really involved proclaiming “to the fence! To the fence” every time one of his students dropped the ball.
We also had a visit from Marlborough College, who are over in Swaziland at the moment. They are big supporters of SKRUM and it was great to show them, and get them involved in some of the things we do on a day to day basis. We took them over to Siphofaneni to an activity centre for children who have been diagnosed with HIV. The topic of the day was life skills, of which rugby fits in brilliantly, with communication, protection, working hard and not giving up all being presented. We did some basic drills with the children before splitting them up into 4 teams mixed with the Marlborough guys and girls. I have to admit that my side was probably the weakest from Marlborough with the Swazi children in fact teaching some of the girls what to do rather than the other way round! We finished off the Marlborough visit with a match between pupils vs. SKRUM + teachers match. With Malindi and Wilson both Swaziland internationals, it was a good way to put the Marlborough pupils back in their place with a comfortable victory and on a personal note it was a standard victory against Marlborough for Wellington!
In the last week we’ve also done a lot of outside training, with Mike hosting a braai on Friday before Josh and I went out with Malindi and Wilson in the local town of Malkerns. As it was one of my last nights out, Malindi and Wilson took it upon themselves to ‘FINE’ me with shots for some of the things I have/haven’t done in my time in Swaziland. Josh and I reciprocated by teaching the guys how to ‘long arm’ a beer. On Saturday night, for my last night out, Malindi managed to get us invited to a birthday party hosted at one of the Queens’ houses, where Josh and I managed to meet the Queen and tell her a bit about SKRUM – after a few drinks I hope we still did it justice!
I had my final roast dinner on Sunday at Mike and Linda’s, and am finishing off the trip today by doing my level 1 coaching. Malindi and Wilson also presented myself with a Swaziland Rugby Jersey, with my volunteer number (08) and Swazi name THOBA printed on the back!
It’s hard to summarise my month over here in Swazliand, it has just been superb. The people are immensely friendly and welcoming, the weather has been great (I’ve even managed not to get burnt!) and as a volunteer you really get the chance to get stuck in and feel like you are a part of something special. I can’t recommend this place enough, and I hope to back again sometime in the near future!