Eastbourne cricket coach Luke Tomsett went beyond the boundary of cricket when he volunteered to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS in Cameroon.
Tomsett, who coaches cricket at Eastbourne College, volunteered to coach in Cameroon, Central Africa with Cricket Without Boundaries for two weeks in November this year.
CWB is a UK founded charity that looks to raise AIDS awareness to children of all ages in various African countries through educating and developing communities through cricket.
Luke is the brother of Mark, who is the captain of Eastbourne Cricket Club, where both brothers turned out for the Saffrons club in the 2014 season.
Reflecting on his life changing experience in Cameroon, Tomsett said, “It was a massive eye opener.
“It was very different to any coaching in England. I was impressed with how interested the kids were in cricket. The kids told us that cricket had changed their life which was great to hear.”
HIV and AIDS has had a devastating affect in Cameroon, it has one of the highest prevalence of the disease in Western and Central Africa, with around 600, 000 Cameroonians infected.
Tomsett said, “We try to link cricket to life. In the first session some of the children didn’t know what AIDS was which was quite worrying.
“By the time we saw them for the second and third time they knew more about it and the message we were trying to get through.”
One of CWB’s mantras is A-B-C, with A standing for Abstain, B standing for Be Faithful and C standing for Condom.
Tomsett and his fellow coaches looked to incorporate these lessons into cricket.
Tomsett raised just under £1,000 to travel to Cameroon and coach kids of all ages cricket.
Cameroon is not a country you would strongly associate with cricket but more with football, and they were only granted their International Cricket Council membership seven years ago.
Tomsett added, “Going out their changed my coaching style.
“I realised how lucky we are that coaching is so straight forward in this country.
“We had 800 hundred children to deal with and the field was the size of basketball court.
“I had 50 kids at one point and trying to play a cricket match doesn’t work, with the kids having to wait long periods to bat, so all coaching goes out the window in that scenario.”
Apart from making a living from coaching the game Tomsett plays for Eastbourne Cricket Club, and had a highly successful season with the Saffrons outfit this year, scoring 478 runs with an average of 31.87.
Helping the club to an impressive sixth place finish in the Sussex Premier League.
Tomsett, who is a level three cricket coach, admitted the organisation and communication of the trip wasn’t the best, but he and his fellow coaches made the most of their two weeks in Central Africa.
“When we arrived in Cameroon we were only scheduled to coach for eight hours a week, which we all agreed was not enough time to do what we wanted, so we managed to coach between 25 and 30 hours a week, more than 3,500 children were coached.”
After completing a highly successful trip to Cameroon Tomsett was offered an all expenses paid trip at the start of the 2015, but had to decline due to work commitments, none the less the Eastbourne College cricket coach will look to go back on the same trip in a year’s time to keep tabs on his young cricketers.
“I will be looking to go back out again in Autumn next year, it will be interesting to see how it’s all developed a year on.”
“I’m looking to promote Cricket Without Boundaries in Eastbourne so we can get more people going to places like Cameroon to make a difference.
“You don’t even have to know how to play cricket to get involved, some of the guys who worked with me didn’t even play cricket but they got stuck in and really enjoyed themselves”
For more information about getting involved with Cricket Without Boundaries’ initiatives visit www.cricketwithoutboundaries.com
Cricket Without Boundaries, established in 2004, is a UK founded charity that looks to raise awareness of AIDS while looking to educate, help and develop local communities through the spread of cricket. Autumn 2014 saw Cricket Without Boundaries reach 30 000 children through a record of six projects across Botswana, Cameroon, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. CWB works with the Cricket Association in each country.