By: Benjamin Kent
Sawubona from Swaziland!
Just as I was surprised how quickly January went by, February did the same! One of the biggest changes I have faced is how hot it is as of late. Since Swaziland is on the opposite side of the equator than Canada, this is actually their Summer! The temperature has been much warmer than earlier, which has made my walk to work require A LOT of sunscreen, but as I digress..
As my second month in Swaziland is coming to a close I have found myself with some more administrative work to complete in the office, while also having some experience working with an awesome program SOCGA helps facilitate at the Olympafrica Centre in Lobamba. Also, luckily for me, I have had some fun opportunities to experience more of the “Swazi-lifestyle” via my accommodation providers (also now my Friends): Janice and Derek
To start off this post, I’ll talk about what has been the bulk of my work with SOCGA: Planning, Finance, and overall Administration. This type of work is tedious and all about being precise and efficient in the documents that are being produced. This is valuable experience that will help me with future sport-management endeavours, however unglamorous it may be.
The first task assigned to me, since my last post, was that of finance and planning. Me and my coworker Pretty worked to complete purchase order forms for uniforms, that were decided on by the SOCGA Board Members, for athletes going to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April 2018. This decision made by the board also involve me and Pretty giving financial projections and costs so that the Board could make an informed decision that would be financially conscious and best suited to display Swaziland’s culture to the world. Once the decision was made we compiled the final decisions into order forms, ensured it’s financial viability, then sent the documents to the clothing design company. This type of work may sound unexciting, but it is valuable information on how budgets are designed and implemented to influence decision, how to complete a purchase order from start to finish, and learning about how a company uses funds cautiously (something I can now utilize from in my personal life).
**To serve as reference, Pretty is the second from the left in this photo**
The next assignment that I just completed actually involves the Annual General Meeting (AGM) that I mentioned in a previous blog post. During the meeting Carmen, our current Interim Secretary General, took a record of all the happenings and discussions that took place. The notes serve as an extremely rough draft, understandably so as these are quick jot notes on the fly, of the minutes during the meeting. My task was to sort through these notes and order them chronologically with the correct information. These minutes are recorded so that anyone who is not in attendance at the AGM will still be aware of the happenings. The minutes, once they were completed, were circulated to all affiliates of SOCGA. This was another task that had high priority and prominence attached to it, as well as learning how to compile the minutes is a valuable skill that is suited to most workplaces.
Here is a quick set of photos of my walk to work alongside a golf course!
Now onto something a little bit more exciting! This past Saturday I had the awesome privilege of working with a program that my predecessor in the QE Scholars program, Nick Hayman, helped to start. This is the Wheelchair Basketball Program that is facilitated at the Olympafrica Centre (OAC) in Lobamba. The OAC is also where the AGM took place during the last week of January. This experience was awesome as I was thrown right in the middle of it. There are players there that are very skilled, and a few people that were just learning to play for the first time. The programs starts with a shoot around, warm up, and stretch so that everyone has to a chance to get ready (or learn in my case). I was not entirely sure of what to expect at first, but this sport is a WORKOUT. Remember at the beginning when I touched on how hot it was? Well the Swaziland sun was beating down and, despite the heat, these players were excited to play and eager to teach me how to play as well.
The energy was very upbeat and, other than most people calling me Nick the whole time, this was the perfect way to spend my Saturday morning. This was also one of my first chances to work with the community and interact with people via sport, and I loved every minute of it. I enjoyed it so much so that I forgot to take any pictures!! Luckily, Nick was more on the ball than I (pun intended), so I will just steal some of his so you can see exactly what was going on.
The athletes take to the court to warmup, and then we distribute the jerseys in order to divide into 2 teams. Once the game started, it was extremely fast paced, everyone was laughing and having a great time. I plan to re-join this program soon, but my schedule is pretty busy for the upcoming weekends.
This weekend I am heading with my friend Derek on a fishing trip, the following weekend to a market in Mbabane, and the one following that on a Safari in Manzini. It will be an exciting couple of weeks for sure, and I can’t wait to go experience it all. You will be hearing more from me very soon!! Thanks to everyone for reading, I hope you enjoy seeing how amazing this program has been so far, stay tuned for more!!