Coaches With the Cows
August 22, 2013. Coaches Kefhira, AJ, and Oti headed west to Kitale for CAC’s final 2013 Kenya program. A short mutatu ride from Eldoret found us at our new site, where we were warmly welcomed by Gichuki and Ojillo, the coordinators of the Trans-Nzoia Youth Sports Association. From the beginning the coordinators were on top of their game. “Africa time” doesn’t seem to exist in Kitale, as our trainings started every morning at 9:00 AM sharp, with coaches showing up as early as 8 AM. Some coaches came from outlying rural areas and journeyed over miles of unpaved roads each morning, and we were so impressed with their dedication to learning about football for social impact.
When you’re working in rural Western Kenya, farm animals come with the territory. We shared the field every day with 6 cows– 4 adults and 2 babies– that lived on the school grounds. There are definite advantages to having resident cows on your soccer field, namely in the form of free lawn mowing and fertilizing services. However, there were also a couple of challenges. The classroom where we worked with the coaches was right next to the field, and didn’t have the sturdiest door. We arrived to the classroom one morning to find that the cows had spent the night inside, leaving us some “presents” on the floor. A few days later, we watched from the field as someone chased a cow out of our classroom. The cow, who was munching on the flip chart we use to write up our games, seemed unperturbed. One cow also seemed to very much enjoy knocking over cones that Coach Kefhira had just set up. Overall though, our bovine friends were a great source of entertainment throughout the week.
When we weren’t working with the cows and coaches in the mornings, we were traveling to local schools to run sessions with the kids and their coaches. We had several rainy afternoons on slippery clay fields, and even though their feet and the balls were caked with mud, the kids had a great time. Coach AJ did not prove to be as agile as the children, as she took quite a fall while trying to demonstrate Marta for Conflict Resolution in flats on the wet clay. On Wednesday we traveled to a very rural school on the Ugandan border, and caused quite a stir when we emerged from the van, as many of the kids had never seen a mzungu before. We worked with about 200 kids at once, and made one of the biggest circle of friends CAC has ever seen. On our final day at the schools, Coach Oti facilitated while the TYSA coaches led the session, and did a fantastic job implementing the games they had learned throughout the week. Meanwhile, AJ and Kefhira got awesome new hairdos from the kids, free of charge. And just when we thought our week with TYSA couldn’t get any better, one of the coaches presented us with a farewell gift in the form of a live chicken. She was delicious.