Kits from Rockslane – 20th February 2010
The kits are also part of the gift from Rocks Lane. We have 10 white jerseys for the older kids and 8 blue jerseys for the younger ones which I am yet to reveal. I brought the kits to the game last Friday and the reaction was more wide eyed wonder. The Game was played after school and just like the great river Nile, the source of which is just ten minutes from here, the children flow daily down the hill to the football pitch. I am not sure which has the greater pull, two rectangular goalposts on a patch of grass, or gravity. Thus we had a big crowd and for the presentation of the shirts the children packed in a tight circle staring at them, so white you could tell they had only been in Africa for a few days. The games master Henry, a young guy who is very passionate about the team, called out the names of his first 11 and each name received a rhythmic clap and cheer from the onlookers. We looked smart, we looked professional. Well we looked as smart and professional as a team can when 80% of the team are playing in no shoes!
The players were very proud of their shirts and strutted to their starting positions like one does when first wearing a new suit. I had figured that after I had said yesterday that the starting team would be wearing the new kits at training today the eagerness to play would be unparalleled. However I failed to take into account one thing, Africa time. It’s like a charming curse, the pace of life we adhere to religiously yet openly scorn back home is just not observed here. Everything is done at a leisurely pace, no one rushes. If staff lunch doesn’t come until 2.20, a full hour and twenty minutes late, and lessons start at 2, you can be sure that all of the teachers will be sitting in the small staffroom, patiently waiting for their daily serving of posho and beans. It is frowned upon to eat on the move we learn. They just do not understand it, if you need to eat, take a seat. No one grabs a sausage roll from Greg’s and eats it whilst power walking to catch the train to work.
On our first day, before we were to be introduced at assembly, we were told by the headmaster to turn up to his office at 8. Assembly was to start at 8.30 and we needed to discuss what lessons we would teach and sort a timetable. Naturally we turned up at five minutes to eight and walked through a gawking crowd of people all registering for school into the headmaster’s cramped office. The four of us sat down, backs to the wall and facing the headmaster. Four big, eager grins were forcibly plastered across our faces which we hoped said, ‘we are happy to be here and can’t wait to get started.’ Half an hour later and the grins were waning, we were slumped in our seats and the silence was taking its toll. The unmistakable awkwardness had subsided only once when I had managed to get him talking about his favourite football team but other than that it was agonising. It was not until ten past ten that he rose from his seat and announced that now assembly would start. This was our Africa time introduction course.
A life exempt from the stress of the pressure of time is a lovely idea but it just doesn’t work. To train the team I needed them to all be there. The culture clash became apparent because I had to leave at a certain time to go to rugby training in town. This is run by a Welsh guy who does not work by ‘Africa Time’ so there was no room for tardiness. Who is right in this situation? Is it right to impose the strict time boundaries that govern our lives back home on to the laid back native culture. We, after all are the outsiders. However I have concluded that the players they aspire to be like in the premiership, Fabregas and Rooney and the like, live their lives by these strict timetables and for a sporting team it is the recipe for success. Thus any player who turned up late for training did not get the shirt I promised them and had to sub for the hopefuls side.
Originally on the Rockslane Website: http://www.rockslane.co.uk/Uganda/rockslaneuganda.html