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 never imagined that our presence in the townships could have such a huge impact on the kids and be so greatly appreciated. It’s an experience I’ll never forget."Matt Harland , Football, South Africa
"The passion shown by all the players was amazing and it was such a great thing to be part of. The skill and talent some of them had was phenomenal and it was of a much higher standard than I had ever seen before."Tom Baines , Football, South Africa
"I have a much more positive outlook on life after coaching football in South Africa. It really opened my eyes to some of the basic things in life that I had taken for granted."Mark Kent , Football, South Africa
“The volunteering and the staff made this the best 12 weeks of my life. To see how positive the community reacts on the work of the volunteers forces you to do your best to leave a good impression.”Patrick Radmacher , Football, India
"This was a really great experience, takes a couple days to get into the swing of things, but after that the trip runs very smoothly. All the staff and other volunteers were very friendly and I will defiantly be doing something similar next summer. Unforgettable!"Will Hurl , Football, Ghana
"The football coaching was great, and also being able to play a lot of football was even better. I thought the staff were great as they loved football and that added to our experience. Great people, great experience and a great sport to be playing in Ghana."Matt Pheasant , Football, Ghana
“Initially I had minor worries that a girl football coach would not be respected, but as soon as I got there, this illusion was proven very wrong!”Lucy Mills , Football, Ghana
"Hola amigos! Just got back to the UK after a epic trip out in Buenos Aires. I can safely say that it's one of my favourite places in the world.So many things make this city great be it the food, women, wine, or footy!"James Kennedy , Football, Argentina
''I had an amazing experience and the team in Argentina are fantastic. Thanks to Alejandro for really showing me the true Argentine way of life. I look forward to visting again someday and seeing how the kids have developed their Messi skills!"Jason Evans , Football, Argentina
"Football Coaching in India was awesome - from the time I arrived to the day I left. The people, especially the children, the culture, the food, were all so great! It was an experience that I will never forget! Thank you Sporting Opportunities.... Sanj."Sanjay Thanki , Football, India
"The experience I had in Ecuador was without doubt the greatest experience of my life so far. I would recommend the programme to anyone who has even the slightest interest in playing or coaching football. The playing experience I gained with La Universidad Catolica was second to none."Craig Lawlor , Football, Ecuador
"My time in Quito was amazing. I had a wonderful experience working with the kids, and partying in the Mariscal. My homestay was also fabulous and I made amazing friends with my other housemates and the family. I look forward to returning sometime soon."Francesca Ioffreda , Football, Ecuador
''Since coming back to England I have been able to get hold of two sets of junior clubs, of which there are none in Ghana – the children out there were practicing using full size clubs!''Francis Boatman , Golf, Ghana
"The in-country staff were really great and the kitchen and house coordinators were amazingly helpful and always there trying to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable."Juan Echeverria , Golf, Ghana
"Had such an amazing time out in Argentina. The pitches were good quality and managed to play some competitive games myself which was really fun."Sarah Marshall , Hockey, Argentina
"Absolutely incredible experience, had such a good time and have developed so much as a person as a result. Would do it all over again!"Dan Langman , Hockey, Argentina
“Whether you’re looking for sport, adventure or worthwhile volunteer projects, South Africa is definitely the place to come - it really does have something for everyone!”Hannah Clare , Hockey, South Africa
“I'd do this whole experience again without a shadow of a doubt - I had the time of my life! I think the coaching and building a great rapport with the children was one of the most rewarding things I've done in a long time.”Emily Crowe , Hockey, South Africa
“A challenging, yet eye-opening and amazing experience. Everyone, from staff to volunteers, were so friendly and welcoming.”Calum Hamilton , Hockey, South Africa
“For me it was a great experience and I would do it again for sure. The staff were all so friendly and it was always fun! With these projects I really got to know the Indian culture better.”Lisa Schaffner , Hockey, India