Mathias: a local volunteer story From volunteer to crIcket kenya emplOyee

In February 2014, CWB sent a team of 8 volunteers to deliver a 2 week project in Murang’a, a small town just north of Nairobi, Kenya, which suffers from a higher than average (and rising) HIV prevalence rate and significant drug and alcohol issues amongst younger members of society.

Prior to this trip very little, if any, cricket took place in Murang’a and the project was very much a step into the unknown, but it was somewhere that CWB felt that cricket could make a real difference.

As with any CWB project, we coached at numerous schools, made contact with various health and HIV treatment/counselling organisations and, perhaps most importantly, trained over 30 local adults as cricket coaches to continue to provide cricket coaching and health awareness messages within schools once the CWB project ended.

One of those 30 plus adults was Mathias Nanjofu.

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. When he heard of CWB’s visit, he came along to meet us and under the tutelage of Leigh Rees, the CWB project tutor, completed our coach education course and undertook some coaching in local schools with the CWB team.

Mathias learning the ropes alongside CWB volunteers

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, something he has continued to do since that date. Mathias has done so without pay and often at significant cost to himself. However, the impact Mathias has had in Murang’a cannot be overestimated.

A CWB team again visited the area in 2015 and were delighted to find a number of the schools they had visited a year earlier were now regularly playing cricket thanks to weekly coaching sessions from Mathias. In an area with no history of cricket, there is now a burgeoning junior cricket scene which continues to grow.

Whilst CWB are delighted to have played a small part in this growth of the sport, it is Mathias’ efforts that have undoubtedly driven this forwards

Mathias’ efforts clearly haven’t gone unnoticed. In February 2016 CWB received an e-mail 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.

They will be providing full support to him to continue and to grow his existing coaching programme and the delivery of crucial HIV awareness messages, that are so vital to his community.

David Odhiambo of Cricket Kenya commented:

Mathias’ coaching was something that CWB started and Cricket Kenya have jumped at that opportunity based on the sacrifice, the will and the passion that Mathias has for the game, going out of his way to conduct coaching even without support. We feel that if we support him directly as Cricket Kenya throughout the year, it will help the development of cricket in Murang’a to a great extent.

Receiving news like this is always fantastic for us at CWB but coming as it did during Volunteers Week, serves again to remind us of the power volunteers have to make a real difference on a local and wider level.

Congratulations Mathias!

UPDATE!

Since this story was published, Mathias has been hard at work coaching in schools across Murang'a County. We regularly receive photos from him from his sessions, showing just how proud he is to continue CWB's work in the area. Here are just a few of them:

Do you want to support Mathias' work? Cricket Without Boundaries are fundraising to help him buy a motorbike. This will allow him to reach more schools, as well as save a little money to help support his family. You can donate by visiting the fundraising page here:

www.virgingiving.com

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