Thursday, March 14, 2013

Breathing life into Malindi Rugby!

Good new to report!  Malindi Rugby keeps progressing.  We managed to finally get the club thing going, at least nominally.  The boys finally got organized, and a good number of my old players and some from Barani have gotten together and played a couple of friendlies against Malindi High.  This was great for Malindi as they were properly thrashed and egos bruised, showing them that there is much work to do.  The old boys were out of shape, but still have there skills, and are relatively well coached ( J ). If they train at least a couple of  times a week in the next couple of months, I told them we can think of inviting some of the Mombasa teams to play us.  Could be fun!  I love watching Kithi and Simba play again!  ...maybe soon I'll be playing with them!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lack of focus, commitment and might pull the first team for championships

Have had a bit of a funny week training the boys, on one side quite positive, on the other extremely frustrating.  One of our goals amongst the coaches (especially Waweru and I) was to have 60 guys training with us this year.  Well, we’ve fallen extremely short of that (on good days we have 30), and there are many factors involved the most important of which was that the 15s season got pushed up so much.  Last week, after we squeaked through to the county championships, I asked each of the remaining players to bring two players, especially form ones and twos.  Well this was in vain! First of all because the form ones were only reporting that week (really?  Do form ones only start reporting in mid February?) and secondly because the whole country I suppose was given pretty much a week off for the elections, meaning that no new player was going to join then.

The cup half full bit was that the senior players decided to stick around to keep training during that period.  I was quite chuffed, somehow some sort of extraordinary arrangement was made (it is a boarding school and there are a number of responsibilities in terms of who looks after the kids) and close to 20 boys stayed at first.  We had them do more physical training in the morning (calisthenics and running), then at lunch time the watched a rugby game on the telly (Waweru somehow managed to get all the games from the quarter-finals on of the last world cup) and it is great to finally have the boys watch some solid rugby.  I have been trying to get them to watch rugby live, but I suppose this is even better.  Then in the afternoon we usually work on some basic skill, plus a technical team skill and then we do some simulation work. Ideally I would have loved to have 30 guys, I would have scrimmaged every morning and then worked on issues that arose during the games in the afternoon, but that is a pipe dream (numbers available) and it is impossible to arrange exhibition games against the other teams (god knows I tried!!!) as the other teams just are not interested.

All this has been going quite well except for two things (3 really) that are really pissing me off.  First off, not everyone that committed to stay stayed.  At first it didn’t bother me so much, I was happy to work with the guys that remained but it was pretty frustrating trying to figure out drills for just 15-18 players to do.  Already I was not that happy about not being able to scrimmage or have a friendly.  Then some key players (one that lives literally minutes walk away from the school) didn’t show and didn’t tell us they were leaving.  That lack of commitment/honesty really upset me.  I have come to expect more from these boys. Again, there is a silver lining.  Four of the boys that stayed were quite junior, and have grown into the roles thrust upon them… although of course they won’t effectively replace players that I have been training for three years! But the thing that has upset me the most this last week (granted I’m already tense due to the lack of players) has been the lack of commitment/focus/effort of the boys.

This is something that I never really had to face before since the first year or so that I coached them.  Since we started going to the nationals, it’s as if the whole motivational issue disappeared.  Sure, I always have to give a little push (especially at the beginning of the year), and every coach has to figure out how to motivate players at every level... but I never expected it like this. 

Literally, I have to still at this stage harp on them to concentrate on what I’m saying (ie when setting up a drill) or worse, have to yell at them to finish a simple lap!  To make matters worse, the boys have started (and this seems to be a growing culture) to start to over-nurse injuries, and come to me saying they can’t continue training because they have a cut or a bruise… I find this really infuriating!  I sort of took for granted that rugby players took pride in the pain they inflict on themselves! J  In past teams, I had to keep players off the field because they insisted that they should play despite having relatively serious injuries (muscle strains or concussions) but I’ve never seen players stay off the field because of scratches and bruises before… and to be honest, my reflex is to tell them to not come and play rugby anymore!  Literally, every drill where there is contact, someone cuts themselves or opens a scabbed wound and pulls himself out of the practice… hard to deal with.  And what do you do, call your own players wimps?  I’ve never had to do that before and I prefer not to start!

At this point, I’m not sure what to do.  Part of me wants to bench all the players that disappeared without telling us at least for a couple of games (I had ten guys at the last practice including the juniors!).  This would mean probably not advancing to the provincials.  I would then focus on bringing up the players for next year.  Alternatively, I’m thinking now of sitting them down tomorrow (those that are there) and giving them one last chance.  Saying if anyone misses a practice from now on, they are off the team.  I’ve never done this before, but I am finding myself pretty upset.  Maybe a good night’s sleep will calm me down, but it really does feel now like I’m babysitting, and I hate that! I really don’t feel like coaching a bunch of players that are not giving their all, I’d rather give the young guys a chance to shine!

At any rate, I probably wouldn't even be discussing any of this if High Schools in Kenya played rugby in May - June - July.  It really is ridiculous to play now, it is soooo hot, the pitches are rock hard, and it is difficult to get young players to play the game as it is that much more physically challenging.  Can someone please help me to change this?  Please???