Manish Patel: Cricket Coaching and Playing Project in St Lucia

Why did you decide to go overseas?

The reason why I went overseas was to develop my coaching abilities and skills. I wanted to experience coaching in another country, to see whether or not their coaching styles/leaderships differ to mine back in England. I’ve always wanted to travel to the Caribbean for quite a while, so getting the chance to coach cricket and travel at the same time was perfect!

What did you achieve during your trip with us?

I believe I achieved many things with my time abroad. However, one thing I did achieve was being able to coach professional cricket players. We were very lucky to coach the women’s national side. At first I thought the task would be very daunting, as I believe I didn’t have the capability or experience to lead a session for a national team. However, when we got going, it was brilliant. They were very grateful for our help and complimented the drills that we were running with them!

What did you achieve PERSONALLY from the experience?

I personally grew in confidence on this trip, as that’s one aspect of my coaching in England I need to work on. Moreover to this, I also believe that I did well to survive on my first real holiday without my family and friends by my side!

What was a typical day like?

I would wake up, and first thing I would do would be speak to Joel Martin, who was in charge of myself and fellow volunteer coach Jamie Powell, to see what work he had planned for us. Normally our coaching sessions would start from 3pm onwards up until 7-8pm. We would normally go to the beach before our coaching sessions or stroll into Rodney Bay for a wonder around! When we got back from a long day of coaching, it was either heading out into town for a night out or chilling out at the house in front of the T.V!

What are your most memorable moments?

One memorable moment sticks out for me. This was when the local school we were coaching at reached the finals of the St Lucian Under 19’s School Competition. At first we thought, we had our work cut out with the boys, however as time grew on, we developed a strong relationship with one another, working hard in training sessions and on the technical side of the game.

What was the social life like?

Social life in St Lucia was amazing! In particular, the street parties thrown on Friday nights were brilliant. It was good to see the whole town come together and have one massive party on street! The Rodney Bay Strip is also a good place to go for a night out, with clubs and bars within walking distances of each other. Joel and Joe looked after us very well on nights out, showing us the best places to go out for a good time!

What were the local people and culture like?

The local people were very welcoming and helpful. Everyone was very relaxed and laid back there, which made the experience really good. If you were ever lost, you weren’t short of help, as locals were extremely friendly and pointed you in the right direction!

What did you try that you had never tried before?

I was slightly sceptical about trying local food, however when I did, it tasted brilliant. Food there was really good and also very cheap from local hot food stalls around the island!

What are your top 5 must-see places in St Lucia?

Pigeon Island
Rodney Bay Beach
The Pitons
The Soufriere Volcano
Castries Market

What are your top 5 things to do in St Lucia?

Street Parties on Fridays is a must!
Rodney Bay Beach for water sports
Boat trip
The Brig Unicorn Boat
Going to the Pitons

What were you doing before you went away?

I was at university, studying Accounting & Finance. As well as this, I was also working as a Cricket Development Coach for a charity called Cricket for Change, who help disadvantaged people realise their potential, through the power of sports. I work on 2 of their programmes, Street Chance Cricket and The Chris Gayle Academy.

What obstacles did you have to overcome to go on the trip and how did you overcome them?

One major obstacle I occurred was money. I had taken more than enough out to last two weeks, however after several nights out in Rodney Bay, I found myself down to my £100 ($400ECD), having only been 7 days into my trip. To overcome this problem, I set myself a budget and stuck to it. My advice is to budget your money very wisely!

If you took a gap year or a career break, why did you do this, and what have you gained from doing so?
I decided to take this break in order to decide what I wanted to do in the future. Currently I am studying Accounting as a degree at university, however this trip has made me realise my core potential lies in coaching. This trip has made me realise, that I do have the potential and am more than capable to make it in the sporting industry.

Has the experience affected your ‘life plan’ in any way and if so how?

I believe that the experience abroad has changed my life plan. Initially I was keen to go into the banking sector, with my degree pointing me in that direction. However, having been a cricket coach for 4 years, I was starting to stray towards a career in the sporting sector before going abroad. This trip has made me realise that this is possible and that I do have the potential to hopefully one day be a lead coach for a county side.

Would you recommend it to others and if so why?

I would definitely recommend this to other people. If you’re a sports enthusiast or looking for a career break in the Caribbean, then St Lucia is definitely the place to go. It’s a beautiful country, with many attractions to see and the local people really do make you feel welcomed! Can’t wait to go back next year and see how the kids I coached are getting on!

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