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Selwyn Times: October 25, 2016

12 Tuesday

12 Tuesday October 25 2016 News SELWYN TIMES Cricket coach bowled over Ellesmere College teacher and cricket coach Chris O’Connell writes about his participation in a programme helping develop cricket coaching in Sri Lanka I HAVE just returned from a two-week experience in Sri Lanka with the Cricket Live Foundation, delivering two coaching education programmes for Sri Lankan local cricket coaches. I was part of a team of three coaches from Christchurch, headed by director Alex Reece who is the founder of Cricket Live, and including Sam Noster, a club player formerly from the Burnside West Cricket Club. We had two different tasks on this trip in two very different areas of Sri Lanka. The first one was to deliver an intermediate coaching course to a group of 12 coaches in a very remote part of Sri Lanka called Siyambalanduwa. The second task was in Moratuwa, Colombo, and it was to deliver an advanced course to facilitate a group of competent coaches and teach them how to teach and run courses for beginner coaches. The courses were different but exceptionally rewarding. We were impressed by the attitudes of all the coaches, their willingness to learn and their “hunger” to experience some of the New Zealand approaches to cricket coaching and teaching in general. Most importantly, the Cricket Live Foundation is based upon giving underprivileged youth in Sri Lanka a chance in life. It is central to the existence of Cricket Live and the emphasis is on the teaching of life skills alongside the teaching of cricket. The life skills taught in the programme, which are known as the five Cs (competencies), are: team work, punctuality and time management, respect, selfdiscipline and nutrition. One totally moving experience I had was the opportunity to go into the children’s homes in the village that they are from. These families pretty much have nothing compared to us on a day-to-day basis. Parents often don’t have regular employment, they will take any job that they MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Chris O’Connell spent two weeks in Sri Lanka working with local cricket coaches and underprivileged young players. can do for money on any week day. Examples of the type of work that is sometimes available for families are labouring, fishing, helping neighbours out and performing carpentry tasks. The reality being, if there is no work on a particular day, then they will not have money for food for the next day. The children that I witnessed who are part of the Cricket Live programme were all simply amazing. The pride and respect demonstrated by them was delightful and inspiring. An example of this was the pride in wearing their grey caps, white cricket shirt and white trousers, which are provided as part of the programme. Somehow through their eyes and faces, I could see how the programme had brightened up their lives and their respect for the sport and the programme was obvious and immense. Painters & Decorators fireworKs extravaganza + canterburY cobras vs nelson Knights streetstocK teams race sat october 29th 7pm start familY pass: (2 aDults & 4 chilDren 14Yrs & unDer) $40 aDults $20 | seniors $10 | chilDren $5 | unDer 5Yrs free the place to be this summer! DoubleDaYs roaD Kaiapoi | infoline 03 364 8833 | www.wooDforDglen.co.nz

SELWYN TIMES Tuesday October 25 2016 13 by experience in Sri Lanka LIFE SKILLS: Chris O’Connell says the Cricket Live programme has given disadvantaged Sri Lankan youth a chance, not just on the cricket field but beyond it. Without a doubt, I experienced a major culture shock over there. Namely, the tuk tuk; daily travel through the city via the chaotic Galle Rd in Colombo; temperatures of up to 40deg C; locals serving up curries for nearly every meal and eating their curries with their right hands; dogs everywhere you look; rubbish randomly dumped in different locations; small crowded shops; and being applauded by locals in some areas as we were the only foreigners that some of them had ever seen. As a school teacher, I was interested in the schools over there. What did I learn from what I witnessed? The schools I visited as part of the programme varied in facilities and wealth. Some classroom environments could be described by us as ‘shocking.’ Classrooms had concrete floors, no lighting, dust everywhere, overcrowding and few teaching and learning resources. There wasn’t a computer in sight that I could see. Toilets were unhygienic, playing field conditions were uneven, sandbased with minimal grass. Some schools had rubbish dumps behind the classroom blocks and I witnessed a ‘burnoff ’ on school grounds depositing smoke all around the environment for everyone to inhale. I had a conversation (via the Google Translate app) with an experienced teacher over there and he described his salary as 480,000 Sri Lankan rupees a year, which equates to $4490 New Zealand dollars per year. I thought, how many of us would get into the profession for that type of remuneration? The MJF foundation, named after Merrill J Fernando, the owner of Dilmah Tea, is a financial backer of the programme. They have been proactive in obtaining classroom and storage space, net facilities, matting and wickets, although this is a work in progress at some schools, which are getting new facilities built and working through all the local red tape. The most memorable thing I saw was a school cow. It was chomping away at the little grass it could find. A couple of schools also had wrecked cars on-site, apparently for educational reasons. The schools we went into started at 7.30am and finished at 1.30pm. There was a prayer at the end of the day, with the whole school standing still and flags coming down before the dismissal of the children for the day. School uniforms were fully white and kids carried plastic bags with their curry and rice lunch for the day. Budgets seemed non-existent for classroom resources and facilities. Most children carried a single exercise book and a pen which was used for all subjects. There were hardly any classrooms with fans and certainly no air conditioning or floor covering and all classroom floors were concrete. It made me thankful of what we have got in New Zealand schools. I will never complain again. I can honestly say that my life has been enriched by this unique and amazing experience of a two-week stint in Sri Lanka. The visit has opened my eyes up to another culture that I can honestly report is a proud, hardworking, and respectful nation. I have witnessed how the medium of sport can be used to lift the lives of the underprivileged and teach them life skills and values with indisputable success. I was fascinated and almost in disbelief as to how a young kiwi, Alex Reece, had managed to get the Cricket Live programme set up from ground zero. Amazingly, after three years of existence, it is a programme that now features close to 500 children. Alex had an initial vision and he made it happen – that in itself is a remarkable achievement. Disadvantaged children have been given a life opportunity and, from this, they will grow after experiencing the three-year programme and this creates a good feeling inside and gives me a desire to keep being involved in some capacity. I would like to thank my employers, Ellesmere College BOT, for allowing me to take two weeks leave of absence from my teaching position; Leeston Lions; Freemasons of Leeston, Alex Reece and the Cricket Live Foundation for supporting me and believing in me. I am so fortunate to have had an amazing life experience and personal advancement experience – but the bottom line is we don’t know how lucky we are here in New Zealand. BRAND NEW VILLAGE CENTRE AND CARE CENTRE – NOW OPEN! Welcome to our new village centre and care centre. We’re excited to let you know that we recently opened our village centre! 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