Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Back in Kabul - 10th October 2011

Sitting in my room looking out over the barbed wire to Kabul and cloudy grey skies. Evening rush hour chaos and din. It is great to be back.

I am here with Amy who is here from the States .We arrived here yesterday, tired and bedraggled after delayed flights, as dusk and drizzle descended on Kabul. Received a rapturous welcome from the Afghan drivers and guards and Gul Noor, the wonder cook , whom I have known for 10 years and who fed me up after my first food deprived visit to Afghanistan in 2002. Immediately whisked off by Jorgen, Olympia and Rafat, who all work for Swedish Committee and taken for a lavish buffet at the Serena Hotel. Built by the Aga Khan and now a 5 star hotel, the Serena lies behind blocks of concrete, massive iron doors, layer upon layer of security gates and checkpoints. A haven for expats in a city of fear, despite all its protective layers, it has been the target of several murderous attacks and rpg (rocket propelled grenade) attacks. It offers luxury and has a gym, swimming pool and countless other facilities. Some business men who come to Afghanistan never leave its walls, they arrive in Kabul, hold all their meetings in the Serena and then leave. (probably very sensible!)

Amy and I had meetings all morning. Heard about progress at SCA....women now sharing the same dining room as the men—though they still sit fairly separately....and the first group of female school consultants ever to go out of Kabul without being accompanied by male relatives went all the way to Karachi. This is a massive step forward and when I met the women, they seemed so happy to have had the opportunity and so unlike some of the many women you meet, who are too timid to speak to men or strangers.

On to the cricket camp

The MCC Foundation has sponsored us to hold the first ever cricket camp to train men and women to be professional coaches. There is not a single professional cricket coach in Afghanistan. After some massive organisational headaches and some interesting last minute panics, it all came together today. Ten teachers from all over Afghanistan, from schools where we have built MCC funded pitches, came to Kabul for the 3 day coaching. 14 men and women chosen by the Afghan Cricket Board also joined the camp.

Four coaches from Cricket 4Change UK came over to do the coaching. The weather messed up the first day! The rain had made the new cricket stadium ground too wet for play. So instead, they all met at the Afghan Cricket Board where they had theory lessons all morning and then went out on to the roof to practice their new skills.

We went to watch. It was a small moment of history. The first ever camp to train coaches and, as was pointed out, probably the first ever camp in any sport to create professional coaches in Afghanistan. An emotional moment!
The enthusiasm was remarkable and so heartening and they all got dressed into kit provided by the MCC . There were 3 women there, who I have met before and they are all part of the Afghanistan Women’s Team and one is the founder of female cricket in Afghanistan. They were so delighted to be part of the group of first ever pro coaches in Afghanistan.

The aim is for them all to pass ICC Level 1 coaching this time round and then to go onto Level 2 next year. The teachers will return to their communities able to teach their school children as well as the local people. It was a fantastic afternoon! Tomorrow they will be at the Stadium for another day of coaching and I will be heading up to the North of Afghanistan.

1 comment:

Jane Webster said...

Have a great time and stay safe! Hi to Olympia, Gul Noor and all others met! Many congratulations on the cricket camps Sarah - the photographs are wonderful.
Jane x