“Doncaster Rovers are scoring success in Africa on an expedition to help youngsters in Kenya” Doncaster Free Press reports…
Glyn and Jane, staff and students at Tumaini Timbwani and Mgambonyi shout a HUGE thank you to Doncaster Rovers Community Sports and Education Foundation, (Liam and Jenna – you’re superb leaders). To Npower, for their support towards the expedition, (Jodie and Rachel – the leap of faith was worth it – we’re happy you made it!) To Brian Butcher, for pulling us all together, supporting Doncaster Rovers and Education for Life. To all the team members (you made Donny proud as you threw yourselves in 100%, despite achy limbs, injuries and the chilly weather, haha) and all your supporters who made this trip possible and of course, Donny the cow! (From funds raised for a family in Taita Hills) A huge thank you too, to Mr Juma at Tumaini and Pastor Ronald at Mgambonyi for your generous hospitality!
Every second counts… it surely did! From the moment the team arrived they were busy. After a 24 hour journey we gave them 2 hours to recharge and then a whistle-stop tour around Tumaini before helping the cooks to prepare to serve “Special Meal” (the once a month treat at Tumaini) – not forgetting the huge pile of washing up. Next, came a tour around the village to get a feel for their surroundings and learn about life in and around Timbwani (with great insight from Njagi, a village elder)
The next few days is when one of the goals of the trip was scored – to use football to engage and interact with communities who share similarities, despite being thousands of miles apart. Youngsters and teachers from Donny were fully immersed within Tumaini classes; students shadowed our students; teachers shadowed teachers and then later in the day everyone enjoyed some skills practice for football and later some for basketball too. Football is an international language, for young and old alike, playing, supporting, building teams and appreciating each other for the skills we have.
Sports and Fun Day was a great day for English folk – it rained… and rained… and rained, but true to form matches were played, goals were scored and in between when the rain came heavily most of the supporters ran for cover. Smiles covered the faces of children in Tumaini, as activities were going on all over. Rovers were impressed with the skill and passion of our girl’s team, although one or two came away with injuries from tackles!
After playing the whole day, Friday morning saw a very early start, sleeping bags and Rovers pillows at the ready for a long journey to Taita Hills. Travelling in Africa often brings challenges, so problem solving and a creative mind is imperative (all part of the experience!) Having set off at 6am, we finally arrived at the football field at Mgambonyi Primary School at 1.50pm ready for football at 2pm. Three local teams were ready to face the team from Doncaster Rovers. People had gathered from miles around, they’d heard the stories and come to see the first English people ever to play on their pitch. The team began with fun and skills training, the sounds of fun and joy filled the air as footballers learned new skills; meanwhile a group of children could be heard shouting, “Doncaster, Doncaster,’ led by Jenna. Games finished around 5pm and the Rovers team left the field exhausted, yet invigorated from the wonderful couple of days. But then, legs began to stiffen and joints began to ache so we all took a walk through the forest to stretch muscles and watch the sun setting at the top of the hills. We met 3 ladies carrying water on their heads who shouted, “How was the game?” (News spreads fast!)
We all woke early the next morning to go to meet Donny the cow and the family she’d been given to. Ferdinand, Martha and their family were eagerly waiting to meet the team and their youngest son Philip very quickly made friends with everyone, running, playing and having fun. Ferdinand told us that he used to struggle to buy milk for his family, but now Donny is giving 6 litres in a morning and 3 at night, which means they have enough for the family and some to sell to Brookside dairy.
It is yet to be confirmed if Donny is already in calf; after giving birth her milk yield should increase. Ferdinand’s family gave us a tour of their fields growing cabbage; baby marrow and Napier grass and then gave us a special treat of fresh macadamia nuts, straight from the tree. Most of us had to enlist the help of a young girl to crack open the outer skin of the nut with her teeth before we could start trying to crack the shell on the rocks.
True to the name, ‘Rovers Go Wild’ the final day was spent on safari. What an amazing time we had! Upon entering the park we came across a family of elephants and then not long afterwards sat with a family of 8 lions. It was fun to watch the lions grooming each other, but then tracking them from a respectful distance and watching them play was awesome! Check this out!
Rovers Go Wild? They sure did! What a wonderful wealth of experience for the youngsters and team members who came… and what a privilege it was to host them and see the children here in Timbwani and Mgambonyi soaking up the experience too!