Cricket Coaching in Paradise
An interview with volunteer sports coach Manish Patel who joined us as a volunteer cricket coach in St Lucia tells us all about the experience and why it is one of the best decisions he has ever made!
Why did you decide to go overseas?
The reason why I went overseas was to develop my coaching abilities and skills. I wanted to experience coaching in another country, to see whether or not their coaching styles/leaderships differ to mine back in England. I’ve always wanted to travel to the Caribbean for quite a while, so getting the chance to coach cricket and travel at the same time was perfect!
What did you achieve during your placement with us?
I believe I achieved many things with my time abroad. However, one thing I did achieve was being able to coach professional cricket players. We were very lucky to coach the women’s national side. At first I thought the task would be very daunting, as I believe I didn’t have the capability or experience to lead a session for a national team. However, when we got going, it was brilliant. They were very grateful for our help and complimented the drills that we were running with them!
What did you achieve personally from the experience?
I personally grew in confidence on this trip, as that’s one aspect of my coaching in England I need to work on. Moreover to this, I also believe that I did well to survive on my first real holiday without my family and friends by my side!
What was a typical day like?
I would wake up, and first thing I would do would be speak to Joel Martin, who was in charge of myself and fellow volunteer coach Jamie Powell, to see what work he had planned for us. Normally our coaching sessions would start from 3pm onwards up until 7-8pm. We would normally go to the beach before our coaching sessions or stroll into Rodney Bay for a wonder around! When we got back from a long day of coaching, it was either heading out into town for a night out or chilling out at the house in front of the T.V!
What are your most memorable moments?
One memorable moment sticks out for me. This was when the local school we were coaching at reached the finals of the St Lucian Under 19’s School Competition. At first we thought, we had our work cut out with the boys, however as time grew on, we developed a strong relationship with one another, working hard in training sessions and on the technical side of the game.
What was the social life like?
Social life in St Lucia was amazing! In particular, the street parties thrown on Friday nights were brilliant. It was good to see the whole town come together and have one massive party on street! The Rodney Bay Strip is also a good place to go for a night out, with clubs and bars within walking distances of each other. Joel and Joe looked after us very well on nights out, showing us the best places to go out for a good time!
What were the local people and culture like?
The local people were very welcoming and helpful. Everyone was very relaxed and laid back there, which made the experience really good. If you were ever lost, you weren’t short of help, as locals were extremely friendly and pointed you in the right direction!
What did you try that you had never tried before?
I was slightly sceptical about trying local food, however when I did, it tasted brilliant. Food there was really good and also very cheap from local hot food stalls around the island!
What are your top 5 must-see places in St Lucia?
Rodney Bay Beach
The Soufriere Volcano
What are your top 5 things to do in St Lucia?
Street Parties on Fridays is a must!
Rodney Bay Beach for water sports
The Brig Unicorn Boat
Going to the Pitons
What were you doing before you went away?
I was at university, studying Accounting & Finance. As well as this, I was also working as a Cricket Development Coach for a charity called Cricket for Change, who help disadvantaged people realise their potential, through the power of sports. I work on 2 of their programmes, Street Chance Cricket and The Chris Gayle Academy.
What obstacles did you have to overcome to go on the trip and how did you overcome them?
One major obstacle I occurred was money. I had taken more than enough out to last two weeks, however after several nights out in Rodney Bay, I found myself down to my £100 ($400ECD), having only been 7 days into my trip. To overcome this problem, I set myself a budget and stuck to it. My advice is to budget your money very wisely!
If you took a gap year or a career break, why did you do this, and what have you gained from doing so?
I decided to take this break in order to decide what I wanted to do in the future. Currently I am studying Accounting as a degree at university, however this trip has made me realise my core potential lies in coaching. This trip has made me realise, that I do have the potential and am more than capable to make it in the sporting industry.
Has the experience affected your ‘life plan’ in any way and if so how?
I believe that the experience abroad has changed my life plan. Initially I was keen to go into the banking sector, with my degree pointing me in that direction. However, having been a cricket coach for 4 years, I was starting to stray towards a career in the sporting sector before going abroad. This trip has made me realise that this is possible and that I do have the potential to hopefully one day be a lead coach for a county side.
Would you recommend it to others and if so why?
I would definitely recommend this to other people. If you’re a sports enthusiast or looking for a career break in the Caribbean, then St Lucia is definitely the place to go. It’s a beautiful country, with many attractions to see and the local people really do make you feel welcomed! Can’t wait to go back next year and see how the kids I coached are getting on!
Visit our volunteer cricket coaching project in St Lucia and enjoy this sporting experience for yourself.
''I would never have thought about going to St Lucia on a sports gap year but I am glad I did. The kids were just amazing and had real passion for the game. I really felt I contributed massively to the development of these young players and I look forward to booking my next trip back to see how they have progressed."Joe Page , Rugby Union, St Lucia
''I have been playing rugby for a number of years through school and university and this experience was a perfect way of sharing my knowledge with a great bunch of young people. The kids really took to the game and working alongside the National Rugby Team is another experience I will never forget. Thanks to everyone involved in organising this fantastic sporting opportunity''.Paul Adams , Rugby Union, St Lucia
"What an amazing 8 weeks had on the rugby coaching placement in Ghana. The kids were just so receptive to what I taught them and there is some serious skill in Ghana! I've made friends for life and this rwho experience really has set me up for wanting to become a sports coach in the future".Rob Davies , Rugby Union, Ghana
"Training in the Ghana heat is a challenge but so worth it. My fitness has improved 10 fold. Working with the young rugby lads was excellent and seeing my team score a winning try has to have been a highlight. Ghana has some amazing places to see and if you like Baboons then a visit to Mole National Park is a must".Phil Hall , Rugby Union, Ghana
''I made a difference by encouraging children and adults to believe that everyone has some degree of talent... and to believe in that talent.''Stuart Garrett , Rugby Union, Ghana
''What they don’t have in skill, they certainly make up for in speed and determination. Ghana also has some very promising youngsters and it has been really exciting, and a real privilege, to share my knowledge of the game with them.''Doug Graham , Rugby Union, Ghana
“Coaching rugby to underprivileged children is a very rewarding experience. I am seriously considering coming back here and staying longer. It’s such a great place and there is so much to do!”Luke Norfolk , Rugby Union, South Africa
“I’ve had the best three months of my life! I would definitely recommend it! Thank you.”Philippa Tollit , Swimming, South Africa
"Being able to teach kids how to swim has to have been one of my most significant moments in life. From seeing 12 year old kids fearful of water on day one to being able to swim full lengths of the pool with confidence after 5 weeks was just incredible. You also know that you are giving these kids a gift for life".Neil Dennison , Swimming, Ghana
"I have had the best three months in Ghana ever! Working a living alongside local Ghanaians and seeing a completely different way of life will live with me forever. My project in helping kids learn how to swim was so rewarding too and it has really made me think about what I want to do when I get home with my future career and working with young people. Thanks to everyone involved and I look forward to coming back to my African home again one day."Sarah Dunbury , Swimming, Ghana
''I really enjoyed the tennis coaching and was amazed at the standard of tennis and the dedication of the children. And they always had a smile on their face too.''Charlotte Wallis , Tennis, Ghana
''Ghanaians are friendly in a way that is almost unheard of in the West. They are extremely affectionate and, once you have got used to it, you can be just as friendly back.''Graeme Acheson , Tennis, Ghana
''I feel really fulfilled that I have aided less fortunate people in giving them a chance to play tennis in the first place and to offer assistance with my coaching knowledge to help the development of the sport in Ghana.''Sal Bolton , Tennis, Ghana
''It was a seriously amazing trip that I will never forget. So thanks for what all you guys have done, and thanks for making it such an unforgettable trip!''Christian Dorin , Tennis, Ghana
“It was an incredible experience coaching the children in Port Elizabeth – they are so enthusiastic about learning to play tennis. Their energy levels are amazing and they had improved greatly by the time I left.”Dave Leicester , Tennis, South Africa
“One of the best experiences of my life! I just can’t believe how enthusiastic and grateful the kids were to learn and play Ultimate. The talent was awesome too – some were naturals! I can’t wait to come back to South Africa one day and see how my players are getting on.”Miles Jackson , Ultimate Frisbee, South Africa
"I've had the best few weeks of my life. The kids loved learning volleyball and in turn I loved every bit of my experience!"James Taylor , Volleyball, Ghana
"Coaching Rugby out here has definitely been one of the best experiences of my life. Met some awesome people and really enjoyed the country. Really kind host family made me feel v-welcome. Would definitely like to come back one day!"Tim Wace , Rugby Union, Argentina
"Taking my love of tennis to Argentina was a dream come true. I will never forget this once in a life time opportunity to play and coach tennis to a range of abilities in such a great country. Thanks to all who were part of this".Ceri Newman , Tennis, Argentina
"The sports tour that Sporting Opportunities arranged for us was perfect. South Africa was a great country and having the mix of playing against locals as well as coaching sport to kids in the townships was a nice balance. Doing two weeks in South Africa has made a number of us want to come back for a longer stint on one of your 5 week volunteer coaching projects so look out for us. Thanks to all involved".Dan Long: Football Captain , Volleyball, South Africa