Monday, 3 February 2014

Blasting Tree Horses...A Boring Work Blog

I suspect this will not be the most exciting post that you’ll read here, but many of you have asked me how the job is and what it involves, so now I’ve actually figured it out for myself I thought I’d do the honourable thing and share.

If you’re bored already I can’t blame you, but if you’re one of those who made the mistake of asking then you have only yourself to chastise.

My official title is “Project Manager – Junior Participation”. A bit wishy washy I agree, mainly because I didn’t know what the actual project was initially. Well, it turns out the project is called “Cricket Blast” – which is a six-a-side competition that runs for two hours a week over a six week period, and is aimed at 8-12 year olds. The first one happens on June 1st.
We've got a logo and everything
We hope to run the competition twice a year (June & October) in each of the cricket “hubs” in Japan, which are Sano (the exciting town in which I reside), and Akishima, in the western suburbs of Tokyo. So four times in total.

A version of the same event was run last year, just in Sano, and had about 30 participants, but all of these were from the Sano Junior Club, so there were not any ‘new’ players getting involved. The aim is to have 48 participants in each six week series, so that’s 96 in each hub over the course of a year, and 192 in total. 

So how do we do that? Admittedly it is especially challenging when you have people who’ve never played cricket before, and some who think it might involve horses. Neigh – it does not.
Stop Horsing Around
What we’ve done is set up a ‘Festival Day’ two weeks prior to each series. This will be in the format of a School Cup, so we are trying to get 20 teams to enter (meaning 120 participants). There’s a trophy to play for and a few giveaways to hopefully encourage entry, not to mention the endless adulation that will of course come with winning such a prestigious event.

“But won’t you still have the same problem of kids thinking there should be horses on the field?” I hear you ask. Good point. That’s why I’ve spent the last few weeks devising a 4-6 week coaching program to run in schools in the build up to the Festival Day where kids will learn all the essentials needed for Cricket (1: No horses. 2: It’s not Baseball) and by the end of it will be total converts and will refer to me as the Messiah.

That’s the plan anyway. We’ve even got a highly professional chap coming all the way from Australia to film some coaching videos for us. Perhaps the biggest challenge is finding volunteers and educating them to a level where they can help out during the day and even run some of the coaching lessons in schools for us. Well, that and persuading the schools to actually let us take over their PE classes in the first place, which is a pretty big challenge in a country that is essentially a big believer in the Status Quo.

The Quo-love is hard to argue with, I mean LOOK at these guys!
Of course, there’s quite a lot more involved in the day to day running with a variety of things to do and trying to get my head around the set up over here, but I’m making steady progress. There’s something quite ironic about me designing school lesson plans for 8-12 year-olds with zero teaching experience and having had no contact with that age group since I was part of it. Not to mention how crap I am at cricket of course.

Likewise, I’m also trying to source sponsorship for all our clothing and keep getting asked to design the shirts etc. Yep, me – designing clothes. Needless to say I am doing everything in my power to pass the job on; otherwise everyone will simply end up in T-Shirts like this:

I think they mean the food...
That’s it for now, not a lot else to report after a fairly quiet weekend where the highlights included buying a rug for my flat and carrying it home on my shoulder like a man carrying a tree trunk, and finding Kit Kats on sale in the local 7/11. Amazing how a small reminder of home can be so pleasing. I did have some great Skype chats with folks though, so thanks to those who hollered.*

The other thing people have asked me about is the marathon training. Well, there’s been a lot of that. In fact I have just completed a full week when I’ve exercised everyday (five runs, two squash matches), which I’m not sure I’ve ever achieved before. It has also coincided with seven days (now eight) of not touching a drop of booze. Funny how they coincide. Anyway – I’ll do a running blog next time, so that will be equally exciting I’m sure.
Until next time...Mahanimashte.
*A special mention to the new human who has entered the world - Barnaby Roland Jasper Hill. Barely a week old and already catching his old man in the nickname stakes (Hedge, Marvin, Hoglet, 002a etc) was good to get screeched at by the little fella yesterday. Huge love and congrats to the parents.

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