The experience of a lifetime
I have been back home in sunny England for a few weeks now and as I lay on the beach enjoying what we have left of our British summer time I can reflect upon my time spent in India with Xsport which was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
It doesn’t seem 2 minutes a go that I received a phone call from Mark Taylor asking if I would be interested in joining him and Xsport in Mumbai, India, working with the young people at The American School of Bombay. To say that this phone call was unexpected would be an understatement but of course I instantly jumped at this opportunity of a life time, excited at the opportunity which had just been opened up to me.
I instantly felt so privileged to be given a chance to share my passion and enthusiasm for sport with so many young people from around the world. I have never travelled to India before so sought advice from my parents who had visited India on their honeymoon many years before. They recalled stories of the immense heat and humidity and the smell, they also sent me away with what appeared to be half a pharmacy’s worth of tablets for every possible eventuality which left me feeling anxious at what I was about to step into.
Having now experienced India myself I can relate to sensual overload which my parents had previously experienced, hitting me the second I stepped foot outside of Mumbai airport at 1am Sunday morning. The wall of heat and humidity hit me instantly and the smell of Mumbai can only be described as unique and to be experienced to be believed. As for the pharmacies worth of tablets which I had managed to smuggled across the boarder I am happy to report that they, all be it surprisingly, went untouched for the duration of my India experience which cannot be said for the other coaches on the trip.
Having arrived in India it was great to visit The American School of Bombay (ASB) and meet the staff which I would have the privilege of working alongside. The primary purpose of the trip was to deliver high quality sports coaching sessions aiding the pupil’s progression and development. For some this meant introducing them to a sport for the first time, supporting their early development and leaving them enthusiastic and confident to continue playing the sport both in and outside of school once the Xsport camp had finished. I really enjoyed working with these young people because watching a child learn new skills and seeing their faces as they progressed and built up confidence is priceless and the reason why I love to teach. I also enjoyed working with the more experienced pupils challenging them to be the best sports men/women that they could be using tools such as slow motion video analysis to provide accurate visual feedback.
Whilst working at ASB it was a pleasure to see those I had been working with having a big smile on their faces knowing that they were leaving the session a better performer then when they entered. It was also a great experience to work alongside the PE team at ASB, supporting their professional development in sports which they may not be so confident at delivering. It was great that as an Xsport coach I was able to pass on some of the experience and ideas which I have gained through my training and time coaching onto others. I built up a strong working relationship with the staff and I believe that I have also benefitted and developed my coaching styles through working with them. The opportunity to work with young people who may not speak English presented a unique challenge which I really enjoyed. My month in India showed that sport really can cross boundaries and it does not matter where you are from, the language you speak or your ability, sport can bring people together and I was fortunate enough to facilitate that.
One of the experiences which will stay long in the memory was meeting two amazing men Riteish Raj and Biju Thampy. Both men are doing amazing work within Mumbai and it was great hear of the work which they are doing to support those less fortunate than ourselves.
Xsport are proud to support ‘Vision Rescue’ and it was an honor to go with Mark to meet Reteish at a local shopping center where his football team made up of young men from the slums in Mumbai were playing in a tournament. We met the boys on the roof of the shopping center with panoramic views of the city. It was incredible to see football being played in such a different environment, definitely not what I had expected.
Xsport are proud to support Riteish and Vision Rescue and wanted to continue to encourage the good work which the football team are doing by supplying them with a new football kit. I hope to return to Mumbai one day to see a shelf full of trophies which the boys have won.
Reflecting back on Mumbai I have experienced 2 very different sides to the city. The school and the Western Phoenix Mall are testament to the huge amounts of money which some people have in the city but right on their doorstep you have vast slums and people living on the streets sorting through rubbish looking for their next meals. It is a strange place to be often provoking me to think about how fortunate I am at home.
I cannot conclude without mentioning the rain. I had been warned about the rain prior to leaving for Mumbai as it was approaching their monsoon season. Being born and raised in England, I am not foreign to the heavens opening but OH MY....... I have been caught in heavy rain before but NOTHING will compare to the rain experienced in India. There do not seem to be breaks between rain drops, just sheets of water which continually fall from the sky. Close your eyes, imagine you are in a humid city, your ears full with the continuous sound of cars and rickshaws beeping and honking their horns and the smell of rubbish filling your nose, now ask a friend to throw a large bucket of water over your head and for a second you could be in Mumbai.
I am very blessed to have been given this opportunity and have made some amazing friends along the journey. Thank you so much to Mark and to xSport for taking me out to experience India and work with The American School of Bombay.
My time in Mumbai shall never be forgotten and I hope to return again soon to resume my role as ‘Coach White’.