Volunteer Rowan’s 3rd week at MOET – August 2016

Volunteer Rowan’s 3rd week at MOET – August 2016

My third week at MOET was mostly filled by a football camp at Cape MacClear with learners from Standards 6-8 who make up the school football team.
Departure on Monday was to be at 1300, but upon arrival slightly before this hour I was greeted by the sight of Patterson driving away with his pick-up sans any children or footballs. He told me he was picking up a few things and I should return at 1500 when everything should be ready. As is the way in Malawi, even come 1500, even the postponed departure was still very far away as everyone tried to work out how to fit 14 students, 3 teachers, 2 volunteers, 5 footballs, a few chickens and some goat (deceased) and several massive pots for nsima into the back of a small pick-up truck (or matola). Think Buckaroo, but with a truck and live humans. High stakes Buckaroo. The ultimate solution an hour or so later after Johannes had arrived with a suitcase and Disney mattress was to have kids and luggage in the back, with adults and some food things in the car. Precarious indeed.

That had been the first difficulty of the journey, but it was to be followed by another right after leaving MOET. The intention had been to get some petrol en route, which would have been fine leaving at 1, 2, 3, 4 PM. Leaving eventually at 1700 was an issue as all the petrol stations had shut. So, as any UK school trip would do, we drove to the ‘black market’ in Makawa to have the truck filled by guys pouring petrol out of water bottles. Most hygienic. While in Makawa Patterson commandeered another matola that the students could then sit in more safely than all standing in the MOET red truck. Johannes and I joined them. Top tip for travelling in the pick-up at night: long sleeves and long trousers are a must! Wearing shorts and a t-shirt I felt like the Siberian winter wind complete with snow had taken a first class flight to Malawi just to terrorise me. Despite my (maybe melodramatic) fears of hypothermia and being laughed at by the MOET students for feeling so cold/being so naive, I survived the journey.
The football camp was to be two and a half days from Tuesday morning and would start daily with a run or a hike at 0500. To my dismay, for the first time in Malawi, this 0500 wake-up was punctual every day…. Of all the things! Then, in true Premier League style; which is perhaps appropriate given MOET’s sports wear bag is mostly filled with Manchester City tops and shorts and also Liverpool shorts featuring very obscure squad numbers like 38 and 53; there would be one morning training session and one afternoon. My first session featured classics such as a rondo, throw-the-ball-control-pass-it-back and also a bit of work on marking. My first impression of the MOET players was that they’re all very good skill wise, but know nothing much about positioning, defending technique and general tactics like formations etc. Nevertheless they improved a great deal as was to demonstrated later in the week.
A split peleton on the morning run
The second day started off with a hike that the guide from the national park (Lake Malawi National Park) described most charmingly as “not a punishment”. Regardless he proceeded to lead us at a pace that wouldn’t have been out of place at a North Korean country retreat for political dissidents. Although the pace made the azungus languishing at the back of the field consider turning round, we persevered and were rewarded with fantastic views at the top of the mountain. As demonstrated by Ed Miliband’s political career, what goes up must come down, and as such after the ascent we had to head back to base camp at the bottom of the mountain. The technique employed by the MOET students was to run down the steep, gravely tracks with very little control and then, upon reaching a terminal velocity of sorts, they hug a tree and rest before continuing. This technique, and its occasional failings made for much amusement.
Before realising I was going to get sacked by both my sponsors for wearing the rival brand
The Director had arranged for us to stay at the EEC – Environmental Education Centre which meant between football our group received lessons about wildlife and the national park. Contrary to the statement in my first blog that Lake Malawi is the fourth largest lake mondial, it is actually the eleventh. Lake Malawi National Park was the first freshwater national park in the world, assuming the signs there were accurate; so a highly prestigious site! At the centre the staff bagged the individual rooms so Johannes and I joined some footballers in one of the dorm rooms. The popular card game Uno soon emerged and Christopher, Grechin, Crispin and Innocent were quickly up to speed with how to play and regularly leaving me with a handful of 10+ cards. One game, somehow, perhaps due to some sketchy shuffling, they each placed a +4 card consecutively meaning I had to pick up 16. Such a pick up is devastating.

The weekend, Johannes and I returned to Cape MacClear where things got off to an exciting start with me sliding down a rock at Otter Point in my swimming trunks, leaving my right arm, knee and foot all cut open to greater or lesser extents. Otter Point is a beauty spot and a few other tourists were around as well, although they were little help and upon seeing me climb back up dripping with blood, one American woman asked her guide “Can we go somewhere else? It’s just….” complete with a gesture at my injuries. Needless to say I was touched by her kindness.We returned home to MOET on Thursday lunchtime but this was not to signify the end of the week’s football. Friday evening was a rematch of the Sports Day clash between Staff and Students. The previous match finished 3-3, but in this one, set up in a solid 4-4-2 formation with one new English signing at CB, the students were victorious an incredible 5-0. Some pundits suggested it was a weakened Staff team, which is perhaps a little bitter.

Injured foot, probably too late for a graphic content warning now right?
Upgraded bike taxi?
Last week (2)’s blog post was posted on a Friday as this one nearly was. In my humble opinion though, my excuse for this week is far better than power cuts. My phone, containing an almost finished blog at the time of the incident, was disabled at some point on Saturday night and requires connection to iTunes which is a challenge here, so the post is lost. Kind of like a more modern my dog ate my homework: my iPhone ate my blog post?

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