Journey to Ceylon

With my rugby team as an end of year trip, I was fortunate enough travel to Sri Lanka. CWW stand sfor Classroom Without Walls. Here is the article I wrote for the schools online newspaper, The Lions Journal. I’m off again this Saturday but there shall be more to come!

After nearly 24 hours of travel all you want is for someone to take care of everything. For the Sri Lanka CWW, that someone was our guide Thabit Ahmed. An ex-student of Andrew Mollit, who started the trip four years ago, Thabit runs a football training center in Colombo, and for ZIS Rugby’s first Sri Lankan tour enlisted the help of his trusted friend Bilal Hassen, hooker for the Sri Lankan national rugby team.

We were in Sri Lanka for both service and sport. It was our goal to coach rugby and to play against the local talent. The first of such training sessions was Monday morning, where we found ourselves with 80 excited Sri Lankan children to coach and train with. Despite the language barrier the kids were boundlessly energetic and enthusiastic, a pleasant trend which held up throughout the week.

After a muddy coaching session that morning, it was our turn. Four members of the Sri Lankan national team (including their captain, Rohitha Rajapaksa who is also the son of  Sri Lanka’s president.), fresh from their Asian Five tour took the time to come and train with us, imparting valuable knowledge to the Lion’s squad.

In the afternoon, we played our first matches, a three team tournament at the Royal Rugby sports stadium. Despite ZIS physically over powering our new found rivals, Royal College and Wesley College, the humid Ceylon weather combined with the agility and speed of our Sri Lankan opponents ended in defeat for the Lions.

Our journey to Kandy is perhaps best described by the word, “BLARFF” as two thirds of the team had food poisoning. Despite the plague we were suffering, we still took the time to visit Millennium Elephant Foundation where we made some new recruits to our forward pack. The foundation is a home for injured or mistreated elephants, paid for by the tourists who come to feed and wash and ride the elephants.

Our next coaching session and match was against Trinity School, where it was decided that we would play touch rugby. Even without the physical contact, it was an intense and fast paced game, which finished as ZIS’s first win in Sri Lanka.

Nuwara Eliya was where we travelled next. It’s the site of a tea plantation, where copious quantities of tea were consumed and also purchased, and the Mencafep foundation. Mencafep is a home and school for mentally disabled children, which is partially supported by ZIS. 135,000 CHF, the price of one year’s education for four ZIS students, will support 3,000 children and their entire families in Sri Lanka for one year.

That same morning we played with the children at Mencafep. Our games were loud and joyful, with balloons flying everywhere and kids covered in shaving foam, In the afternoon we ran a muddy and chaotic training session for the kids of Nuwara Eliya before travelling down to Galle for our final match. Despite shoulders sunburnt from a morning on the beach, Mahinda College simply couldn’t compete with the Lion’s physical strength and the match, along with ZIS Rugby’s First Asian Tour ended with a comfortable win for Zurich.

We got burnt, beaten and poisoned, but I challenge you to find one member of the Lion’s squad who wouldn’t swear blind that the ZIS tour of Sri Lanka wasn’t the top CWW our their high school lives.

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