Sunday, 29 November 2015

A dream project, please let's make it happen......

Please donate by clicking here - your help will go a long way

Ever since making the decision to permanently move abroad seven years ago, I've had a dream of helping others accomplish what I was blessed with shortly after turning nineteen; An opportunity to visit and play cricket in England, the place it's believed to have been practised more than 450 years ago. Leaving the shores of Africa in 2008 wasn't easy, nor was it back in 1996. Although some similarities exist - a new adventure and both on the back of cricket - there were two big differences; Not knowing if we'll ever return and leaving everything behind. It's a sacrifice nobody understands unless you've experienced it yourself.

Many days I ask myself whether or not is was the right thing to do, how life would have been had we not made that decision? Not many days go by without me carrying a heavy load of guilt on my back for making a selfish decision - a decision that I thought would offer us a better opportunity, better career, better education for our children and a safer environment. At the time I didn't think about what I took away from others - grandchildren away from their family, children away from their parents, family and friends and the opportunity that the cricket academy I started seven years prior provided to children from all backgrounds. It's sometimes a bitter pill to swallow.

Things may not have turned out the way I'd hoped and although I may never quite understand why, I will always believe things happen for a reason, albeit not always easy to accept, it can often steer you on a different route with unexpected and perhaps better outcomes. Who'd have thought I'd be in full-time education at the age of thirty nine? Who'd have thought I'd be standing pitch side in front of 32,000 singing fans during kick off at an English Football match and that I'd have fallen in love with Wheelchair Basketball, being a Team Liaison for Italy? Who knows the reason we get knocked off our path sometimes, the important thing is to get up and make the best of what we're able to while we can.

It's for that reason I've decided to focus on the dream I mentioned right at the beginning. Being involved in the Academy back in South Africa not only gave me lifelong memories but it provided something to the community which we could all share, enjoy and benefit from. Sport development has improved vastly over the past decade and many young people from all corners of South Africa are given an opportunity to compete on the world stage nowadays. Cricket has also transformed into a very wealthy sport and can be very financially rewarding for those who make it onto provincial level, especially in the IPL. Kids from all backgrounds, no matter how poor, therefore have an opportunity to set themselves up for life through doing something they love.

The project I'm looking to start however, is aimed at those who probably won't make it that far. It's aimed at young people who just aren't quite good enough to represent their country or even province but who have a passion and love for the game like no other, like what I had when all I wanted to do was come to England and play cricket every day. Although I had the passion, the biggest problem standing in the way of relishing my dream was being able to fund it. I was very lucky though - the help I received from the community and years of savings made it possible. Not everyone is that blessed..... I want to help make that possible for some and offer them something they will never forget.

I'm hoping to raise enough money to be able to offer two cricketers a six week visit to England next year, during which they'll receive coaching, play matches, a visit to Lord's and enjoy some British culture. This might well be the only ever time they get such a chance - who knows, it might even jump-start their career in the sport. Although I'm planning a number of fundraising events, this will not be possible without generous support from businesses and individuals. I must therefore ask if you'd please be so kind to support this campaign by clicking on the link to help make someone accomplish a dream and by making even a tiny donation. 

No matter how small, your contribution will go a long way towards making this dream a reality. The biggest challenge is getting every single person reading this to donate something. Too often we think, "Nah, I can't be bothered", "my tiny contribution won't help" or even worse, "I'll do it another time" - then we don't. Please, act now. What is one less £3 spent on something this month or even week? 

By donating something and sharing this with your friends via email, Facebook, Twitter or whichever way you can, could eventually help offer these guys the best six weeks of their lives.

Let's make this possible, together, please. Your help will be gratefully appreciated, thank you.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Are we losing our manners?

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, other than lies and stealing, it’s someone not showing manners. Growing up as a kid there was no option. It was as necessary as the air we needed to breathe. You wouldn't dare show disrespect, not least to your elderly. I remember how it was the norm to call someone around ten years or so older than you “aunt” and “uncle” – not just those related to you. It was called respect.

Many of us change as we get older. Some for the better, some for the worse unfortunately. I know I myself have changed but one thing I've tried really hard to hold on to, is manners. It’s so easy and it doesn't cost anything. Luckily there are millions out there who still have amazing manners and it’s always so pleasing to see.

I've always been very proud of my little girl, Jessie’s, manners and it’s always pleasing for a parent when someone praises her for it. She has a golden heart too and the two often goes hand in hand. Just the other day she illustrated this once again when walking pass a homeless man in the city, she asked if she could give her hot dog which she hadn't even taken a bite of yet, to the man. She stood there watching him from a distance with genuine care and I could see how happy she felt that he had something to eat.

Wouldn't the world be an amazing place if every person in this world showed the same amount of care to others? We quickly forget our purpose on this piece of land. It doesn't even belong to us, yet we’ll fight over it, tell others we have more right on it than what they have. I sometimes think as individuals we give up too easily because we think we can’t make a difference. That there are too many people out there not sharing our beliefs and principles. I think that’s where we go wrong…… I do think there are more well-mannered and caring people on earth than there are baddies. But we’re too caught up in our own thing and worry too much about ourselves. We think we can’t change the world – as individuals I'm sure we can’t, but we can change individuals and as one we can go a long way to changing the world. There’ll always be evil, but it will have little impact if it only makes up for 1% of the globe.

Back to Jessie….. I was struck this morning by a one liner Skype message I received from her in reply to me trying to arrange a time for us to chat. We haven’t been able to talk all week and all of last week neither, and I've sent her a few messages trying to arrange an appropriate time to talk. Of course I was delighted to wake up finding a message of hers on my Skype but unfortunately my mood was dampened straight away when it read “I can’t I'm going to chestifer”. No good morning papa, how are you? Just a one liner. It’s not how I know my little angel so it’s quite deflating. I did manage to quietly laugh about the chestifer which I presume was meant to be Chesterfield, lol.

It’s not the first time and I've spoken to her about the importance of being respectful and to show manners at all times, even on a social chat platform and she listened at the time. She had a very old mobile phone then and she blamed it on the fact that it takes forever for her to write something, which I could sympathise with. One wouldn't normally encourage 9 year old children to communicate via that platform but society is changing, kids are quickly becoming more IT intelligent at a younger age and it provides the best form of communication for us – we just need to stay on top of it with regards to safety as well as the method we communicate in, not forgetting manners.

It then made me think….. Are we living in a time where social media has become so dominant that the speed of which we write to one another is causing us to put things in short, emotionless sentences, if we could even call it a sentence? Are we sending messages across to one another that misinterpret ourselves or is it becoming such a habit that we actually forget how to communicate with each in a proper, well-mannered and respectful way? As technology moves forward, society seems to go backwards. I'm not sure if that’s a good thing.

I've not been able to speak to her since, although I did reply with a very polite message reminding her not to forget her manners even in a message. When there are miles between you and your daughter and she only sees you one or two days a fortnight at most, it becomes even more difficult to be the “bad parent”, nagging, and it’s a risk you take because you want to do everything in your power for her to love you and not give any reason for her to dislike you but hopefully one day she’ll appreciate it and realise you did it because you love her more than anything and just want her to grow up being the beautiful, wonderful and caring person she is. “I hate telling you off my angel as much as you hate being told off, I promise you. Papa loves you to the moon and back my skapie xx”.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Research Study

I'm currently busy with a research project for DCFC on the match day experience for the core fan. Besides the findings hopefully benefiting the club, it also forms part of my Advanced Sport Management in Practice module assignment this year. One of the many amazing things about the course is the opportunity of working with so many great organisations being presented to us. Derbyshire County Cricket Club, Derby City Council (Derby Velodrome), Team Derby, Sporting Futures and Derby County Football Club have all opened their doors to us giving us a chance to run a live project through conducting research for them.

I could easily have chosen every single organisation, but unfortunately we could only pick one, having had to design a research proposal for three of them. Having studied some existent literature I felt I could probably be of most benefit to the marketing department of DCFC, looking at what it is that fans feel could improve their match day experience through both a quantitative and qualitative study. Hopefully the club will take the findings on board and together we could improve the experience of going to the iPro even more! If you haven’t done so already and you attend Derby’s home matches, please help us by completing the short survey which might have popped up on this screen or by clicking here or if your mobile device doesn't support it, click here.