George and Laura support Cricket without Boundaries Charity in Kenya

With funding support from friends, family, colleagues and Cheshire Cricket Trust, Cheshire cricketers George Newton and his mum Laura travelled to Kenya to support the work of the Charity Cricket without Boundaries. Their Report follows below:

'Cricket without Boundaries is a charity which uses cricket as a vehicle for delivering health and social messages in sub-Saharan Africa. The charity organises 3 trips in the Autumn and 3 trips Feb/March time each year. A team of volunteers join in-country coaches and ambassadors to visit schools and other community projects. Each project expects to coach 2000-4000 children over the 2 weeks.

Week 1

The team on this visit to Kenya has 8 volunteers, and between 3-4 Kenyan Coaches, and the plan is to visit three areas of Kenya - Laikipia, Muranga and Nakuru. Laikipia is located on the equator, is scarcely populated and is also home to a British Army base. Laikipia is also Maasai Warrior territory. The Maasai Warriors have formed a cricket team that use cricket to raise awareness and make significant change to social injustices of early marriage and FGM. The team have also travelled to the UK and played at Lord's.

We visited 5 schools in this area interacting with 600 children. Maasai Warriors, Daniel and Benjamin, are making progress in educating the school children on how to prevent HIV and AIDS, and how to prevent FGM. The distance between schools is large, but what is present in Laikipia is plenty of wildlife against the backdrop of Mount Kenya. We spotted elephants, giraffes, gazelles, zebras, camels and baboons. Safari combined with cricket coaching!

It is CWB tradition when passing the official equator to get out and have an impromptu game. For 20 mins the team took turns to bowl and bat with the traffic passing by. What we also managed to do is to persuade 3 Kenyan women to have a go at batting whilst the Kenyan men watched. Equality on the equator!

Our first day in Muranga was an epic day...5 schools, 2103 children experienced cricket and were tested on their HIV/AIDS knowledge. Mass relays races and rapid fire games entertain hundreds of children in one session. The team split on day two with 3 coaches running an introduction to cricket course to 26 young adults from the community, and the rest of the team visiting 5 schools bringing the total in Muranga to 3000.

The last day in Muranga culminated in a Festival that truly was 'cricket without boundaries' boundary cricket is great fun. There was a separate girls and boys only competition and we saw some great potential in these young Kenyans. They have seen very little cricket played here, and an incorrect grip doesn+'t result in a lack of power! What is impressive is the ability of boys and girls alike to throw, a flat, fast throw is the norm!

The first week is done, the work of CWB and the area ambassadors is inspiring. There may be times when dealing with a class of 400 with 12 coaches, limited equipment and no flat piece of concrete or grass is a rather daunting task...but, as we have discovered, it isn't insurmountable.

Week 2

Our third and final leg of the trip was to a place called Nakuru which is north-west of Nairobi, and couldn't have been more different from Laikipia. Nakuru is the 4th biggest city, is rarely still and quiet, and had plenty of schools for us to visit.

We were joined at this stage by a number of lively and enthusiastic male and female, former and current Kenyan players. A handful of these were employed by Cricket Kenya and the rest volunteered. This area seemed to be a hotbed of producing talent and we met the two very proud coaches who unearthed six international females and 1 international male. They continue to search for talent!

When we ran relay sessions, every coach would take a line (typically of around 25 children) and the demonstrations would get pretty competitive!! The children certainly enjoyed the coaches being part of their team!

Every day during the school term two coaches attend a Deaf school supporting the games teacher with 20 children. This session will stay with George and myself for a long time. Each of the coaches was introduced to the children and the children would then come up with a unique action to represent our names. Some were straightforward and obvious, but some demonstrated a humorous side to the children. We quickly learnt the signs for well done and sorry, and helped the children with some basic bowling and batting. The coaches go in every day due to the fact that the children rarely remember what they did during the previous session. There were smiles and high 5’s all around when we departed.

As in Muranga, our time in Nakuru culminated in a Festival at Rift Valley Sports Club. This is where a local Club team is based and where a touring MCC side will play in a couple of months. Nine schools played in a boys and girls tournament and there was some great raw talent on show again. Three children from one school were wearing whites and on closer inspection I spotted that they were Toft CC whites!! It was good to see them being used.

This has to be one of the best, unique experiences we've ever had. It isn't work, it isn't a holiday, it's making a small difference using the medium of cricket to a country that does have issues and problems to solve. If you were on the hunt for raw sports talent you wouldn't go far wrong to select Kenya as the country to visit. There is no need to teach anyone how to throw here. They can throw dead-eye straight and flat and fast. They can also hit the most amazing shots with their hands around the wrong way. I was of the opinion that the vast majority were actually left handed, but George did come up with a better way of identifying left and right handers from the foot they led with towards the ball. Fair point made by the inexperienced coach to the experienced coach!! Every day is a school day!!

George and I thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Kenya. If one child makes a sensible decision about how to stay healthy, or continues to play cricket, we did our job. The final figures will blow your minds ... 11 days of coaching, 29 schools, 7693 children 'coached'!!

Read about George and Laura's trip HERE

George or Laura would be willing to anyone who wishes to know more about a Cricket Without Boundaries trip.

For information about the Cheshire Cricket Trust, making a donation/bequest, or seeking support for a cricket related activity please email Cheshire Cricket Trust