Mathias Wasike’s enthusiasm for cricket and cricket coaching is hard to beat. As a member of the Cricket Without Boundaries “Ambassador” coaches WhatsApp group he regularly sends through hundreds of photos from the sessions he is delivering in Murang’a, a small town just north of Nairobi, Kenya. Every one brightens our days and opens a little window to the happiness and sunshine of a CWB session, a mini escape from cold and gloomy UK.
The story of how Mathias came to coaching epitomises the spirit of Cricket Without Boundaries. In February 2014, CWB sent a team of volunteers to deliver a 2-week cricket- for-HIV- prevention project in Murang’a, which suffers from a higher than average (and rising) HIV prevalence rate and significant drug and alcohol issues amongst younger members of society. As part of every project, CWB run coach education courses for local adults. In 2014 one of the candidates was Mathias Wasike. Unlike most of our new coaches, Mathias was not a teacher at a local school. Simply, he had always had an interest in cricket but had never had the chance to play. Under the tutelage of the CWB project tutor Mathias completed our coach education course and undertook some coaching in local schools with the CWB team.
We returned in 2015, and were delighted to find that Mathias was now coaching regularly. Shortly after that trip, we heard that Mathias had given up his job in order to act as a volunteer coach at schools in Murang’a, without pay and simply for the love of the game. Mathias’ efforts didn’t go unnoticed. In February 2016 CWB received an email from Cricket Kenya, the national cricket association, confirming that it had made the decision to appoint Mathias as a permanent development coach in Murang’a.
Coaching in nine local schools, cricket in Murang’a grew from strength-to-strength, and Mathias now runs a six monthly regional schools’ tournament, attended by 20 teams each time. Mathias insists on boys and girls being coached together. Every school he coaches at now has a boys and girls team. Beyond this, Mathias has launched a coaching programme for young people in prison as a volunteer and visits once a week, and he already has players in Kenya representative age group teams that have never played before he became a volunteer coach.
In order to continue to support Mathias’ work, in 2017 CWB made it our mission to crowdfund a motorbike for Mathias, to save him money on transport and allow him to start coaching in more distant schools who were desperate for him to come in and teach. Within days we were receiving photos of a new school 30 minutes ride off the main road, with Mathias coaching hundreds of hard-to-reach young people supported by their enthusiastic teacher.
It’s a story with flashes of familiarity for anyone involved in grassroots sport; the handful of keen individuals who make things happen so young people can enjoy the benefits of involvement in sport. CWB are determined to continue to support coaches like Mathias who make things happen, and we can’t wait to see what he achieves next!
Cricket Without Boundaries (CWB) is a small charity that, thanks to the dedication and enthusiasm of its volunteers, delivers crucial health and social development messages to tens of thousands of children every year. The charity uses cricket as a force for good, helping communities in sub-Saharan Africa and the UK to tackle HIV, FGM and other social issues.