After getting up and getting ready, I was informed that Malindi was nowhere to be seen and had not turned up for work. This being said, this meant I was told I would have to drive the Kia SKRUM truck! I felt both excited and nervous as I have never driven something this big and it is an automatic which I have never used before.
However, once I had got the hang of it and Michael had told me to man up, that it was very fun to drive and automatic cars are way easier than manual! After getting over this excitement, we drove to Malindi’s house to pick him up but on arrival we were told he wasn’t there. This idea was then abandoned and we just went straight to the University for National Team training. The road systems here in Swaziland are best described as having rules ‘ish’ and there were things like 4 way stop signs which Michael had to assist me in when to go.
National training has begun and the match is only 2 weeks away now and only 2 training sessions away. Therefore, Michael was appointed National head coach! Michael has demanded that he is no longer called Michael or Mike but it is either ‘coach’ or ‘sir’ which made the whole team laugh.
Michael set some drills and I was given the job of driving the President around for some jobs that needed to be done. Before you get excited and think wow you drove the President around! The President is Michael as he is ‘The President of the Rugby Union!’
After driving into the city centre of Manzini and nearly killing some stupid people who would run out in the road without warning, we made it to the shops. I was sent in to get some prawns for this evening’s dinner, two bottles of Linda’s favourite wine and some snacks for me and Michael. After struggling to get out of the car park and having to get the owners’ guidance I was able to do it.
Our final stop before returning to the training was to stop and get fuel. I had a very embarrassing moment at this stage as I parked up at the gas station and got out of the car to fill up, before Michael could say anything I was round the back and greeted by a man already filling up the car that looked very confused as why I had got out of the car! I had not realised that you get it done for you in Swaziland unlike in England! Whoops! Michael will not let this drop now and always laughs when we drive pass a petrol station.
We finally returned to National training and by this point the opposition had arrived and they were wanted to start a match. Wilson then asked me if I would ref the game and I agreed. I was introduced to the guys by Wilson and the player they called the Beast took a liking to me, every time I went near him he would say ‘hello Bethany!’ and wink at me! Haha! Wilson and Michael are still joking about getting me to wear the traditional wear at the National match and it is not going to happen! After half of the game, let’s just say I am better at playing rugby than referreeing it! Wilson was very polite and said I had done well but I knew he was lying, bless him.
After this I met the opposition team’s leader Tyrone. Michael and Wilson had spoken before about him and he was indeed a large man! Michael joked and said to me ‘this is Tyrone the god of the Titians team or should I say Buddha!’ Michael was determined to embarrass me and made Tyrone ask where I live so I told him I live in Crapstone and that was it I am now called Crapstone girl! However, he was very kind and invited me to his night club some evening soon.
The training was a very interesting experience to watch and I could see the progression in the players and how much they were improving as the training session goes on. They have all the tools, speed, power and skill! The player they call ‘The Beast’ definately brings the power as he is huge. I do hope that it all comes together on the 6th October and they win against Botswana!
Once the training session was over and the motivational speech was given by some of the team members and Michael ,we left and dropped Wilson off into town and then drove back to base. Linda asked as we got in how the driving had gone and I said ‘well I didn’t hit anything so good!’ Michael later on had said I had done a good job which is nice of him!
I helped again with dinner and tonight we had Linda’s special rice, fried prawns, chorizo and garlic butter sauce which was all to die for. The prawns and chorizo was done on a huge wok outside and smelled amazing! My new nick name, after finding out I was from Crapstone is ‘Winnie’ as in Winnie the Pooh!
The desert Linda made was whisky and blended ice-cream and it was heavenly! After all the delicious food and drink , we sat down to watch some TV and as we were watching a film a thunder and lightning storm started. Soon after, the power was cut out and candles were lit all around the house. This was thunder and lightning like I have never seen or heard before. It was deafening! After going to bed, I was kept up by the noise of the rain thrashing at the roof it was quite amazing.
Today was a very fun day with getting the experience to watch a National team train and even be a part of the training was really quite brilliant!
(Bethany is doing a volunteer placement with the charity SKRUM in Swaziland. The placement involves rugby coaching to schools and the community, AIDS education, painting of the charity logo on the outside of schools and generally being part of the team and getting involved in all aspects of running this charity.)