Warriors Education in Martinique 2017.
Students and teachers from the Warriors Performance and Education Academy have just touched down on the Caribbean Island of Martinique.
During this two week project, Warriors Performance and Education students will participate in and lead sports coaching sessions within local schools and general community groups.
The Project is in partnership with ‘Everything is Possible’, an international organisation that provides funded work experience worldwide for young people and adults.
Warriors students have spent their first day settling into new surroundings with a walk around the town of Le Robert. Our first project session is later on this evening, were our group will attend football training sessions for both youth and adult players at the Stade de Trenelle Riviere Salle.
Warriors Education students have been out and about meeting the local people on the island of Martinique. Chatting away, learning about how the indigenous people live. You can already see that our students are fascinated with how different life is here to back home.
Today they met ‘Gee’, who has lived on the island for 50+ years, with a break of just 5 years when Gee lived in central London. A very welcoming, warm gentleman who seemed genuinely happy to speak with the students outside his home. Interestingly, Gee informed our group that he is a long time friend of the British Reggae Group Aswad! Unsurprisingly only our staff team were familiar with Aswad! A little bit before our students time.
During a visit in the afternoon to the town of Le Robert, our students made full use of a multi sports pitch down by the harbour!
A snap game of ‘Touch Rugby League’ started between students and staff, with the local people watching with interest from the nearby restaurant.
An excellent and fun way to progress through day 2 ‘The Wigan Way!
Warriors education students certainly have had a very eventful few of days! Receivng an invitation from ‘Youth in the Town’, our partners on the island, to a local derby match between two of the best football teams. After a 30 minute drive to the stadium, our students were able to experience a real carnival atmosphere in the stands, with a band playing drums, trumpets, maracas and other local instruments. The fans also played their part, singing along for the entire 90 minutes. Unfortunately the team we come to support lost the game, nevertheless a brilliant evening for all our group.
Warriors education students have settled in really well and appear to have acclimatised to the 30+ degree temperatures and humidity! Rather different from what they are used to back home in the Wigan and surrounding areas. Our students so far have been an absolute credit to the Warriors Performance and Education Academy, with special praise coming from our hosts ‘Youth in the Town’.
Today has been a wonderful experience for our students as today was all about ‘Intercultural Sharing’. For a full afternoon, our students took part in a session delivered by Emilie, a youth worker for ‘Youth in the Town’. Meeting and interacting with French speaking students of similar age, who attend local colleges in Martinique. Some of the French speaking students could also speak a little English, supporting two way communication in group work activities and fun games. Warriors students expressed their thoughts on how they feel about living in the UK, our British traditions and yes ‘Wigan Pies’ got a well-deserved and proud mention!
The Martinique students talked about their culture, their college, what they like to eat, how they feel and what they understand about the UK. Many questions flowed between the two groups and a real sense of interest and genuine knowledge finding was evident.
Later that afternoon on the front playing area, the Warriors students ran some practical coaching drills for all students and staff to participate in. Fun based passing and moving drills, around the circle, brought fun and laughter from all taking part and watching from the sides. The students from Martinique appeared to really enjoy the session, especially when a forfeit for dropping the ball was introduced! Press Ups seemed to be enjoyable!
What a brilliant way of bringing two very different groups together, from opposite sides of the world to demonstrate that with positive minds and a sense of warmth, there are no barriers to friendship.
Our students have had a great day at the ‘Centre Nautique De Merine’ – Water Sports centre’, located within a 10 minute drive from our residence. Students and staff took part in a range of activities, starting with ‘Kayaking’ and a thorough demonstration of technique and safety from the centre professional.
Our group then moved on to a new activity called ‘Paddle Boarding’. Students had to stand upright on what can be described as the base of a surfboard and use alternate strokes to either side of the board using one paddle. An activity that certainly tested levels of balance, core strength and persistence! The last activity of the day was ‘Sailing’ in a 3 / 4 person boat, initially led by instructors from the centre before they allowed our students to take control for themselves.
The general feeling within the group was that this has been a great experience for all and something they will look forward to doing again next week.
On the way home we stopped off to check out the ‘street food vendors’. Throughout the various towns around Martinique, you find numerous street stalls with local people making a living selling either chicken & ribs in local sauces, cooked in large steel BBQ Drums or fruits such as melon and bananas. Today the students and staff opted for a selection of beautifully cooked chicken and ribs.
Today we took in some Martinique history with a guided tour of ‘La Savane des Esclaves’, translated into English as ‘The Savannah of the Slaves’. Located in the resort town of ‘Trois Ilets’, the two hectare open-air museum, created and operated by Mr Gilbert Larose, replicates a post-slavery native village and farm with traditional houses built of palisades wood with beaten earth floors and cane-leaf roofs. Students and staff were given a guided tour around the grounds of the museum by Emilie, our Youth in the Town host representative, who fortunately for us, worked at this museum prior to taking up her current role. The tour took our group around various garden paths, stopping at small houses for a look inside to see how the slave families lived, the clothes they wore and the few household items they were allowed to possess. Our group were informed about how the indigenous people of Martinique were enslaved, how they were treated and the life they lived until slavery was abolished.
The students got to meet Mr Gilbert Larose and hear that he created ‘La Savane des Esclaves’ so that we have a living museum to “testify, teach and preserve the heritage of Martinique.”
Our staff and students have spent the day site seeing around La Trinite, a coastal town up in the north east of the island. After a short 20 minute drive from our residence in Le Robert, our group were able to stretch their legs with a walk around the local shops and harbour. The walk included Le Trinite Town Market, a place local people bring their harvest to sell to the public, trade with other locals and generally earn their living.
Along the way, our group stopped at a pop up stall where local college students had set up to sell second hand goods to passers-by. Their aim was to raise enough money to pay for their group trip to Puerto Rico!
Of course our group stopped and purchased some items to help them towards their target! We purchased a toaster for our house, a recorder flute instrument and a childs life jacket! We wished them the very best of luck with their fund raising and a great trip should they reach their target amount.
Our group went for a leisurely stroll along Le Trinite harbour and out onto the jetty that stretched far into the sea for a look back on the beautiful coastline. They then moved onto the beach before heading back to the mini buses for a trip back home to Le Robert.
On our travel back, we stopped at the local supermarket or locally known as GEANT. Our students were given a task to select and purchase food and ingredients to cook for our group evening meal back at the house.
One aim of this project is for students to become much more independent, so taking on the responsibility to move around the supermarket to pick out the food types required for our evening meal was for some, a new experience but one they coped with well.
Project activity morning for the group, supporting a ‘Cycling Session’ with lead instructor on the island ‘Fred’. An early start, everyone up for 6am breakfast, we set off at 7am to ensure we arrived at the location for 8am. Today was particularly sunny and very warm so caps, sun creams and our water bottles were very much needed!
The session participants were local primary school children, who attend weekly activities with instructor Fred and his assistant Kevin. They learn the basics around riding a bike unassisted, following a set track on grassland, in and out of coned areas, then across some more challenging, small hill terrain. The Warriors students were given a warm welcome and induction into the morning activities and provided with a role each. Students were asked to stand at points around the track to support the children as they passed during each lap. The interaction between our students and the Martinique primary school children was a joy to watch, although an obvious language barrier for most of the session, our students and primary school children developed a swift bond with special ‘Martinique Hand Shakes’, smiles, laughter and conversed with basics such as ‘bonjour` ‘Hello’ ‘Allez Allez’ Go Go Go’!!
A special mention goes to student Dylan Brown, currently studying on our Level 2 Sports Coaching course. After instructor Fred asked ‘who would like to take over and run the session?’, Dylan stepped up to take over and lead activity session 2! Using basic French words to relay instructions to the children, Dylan showed courage and confidence to lead a good session and control the group in a professional manner. Dylan received positive feedback from instructor Fred and with that, collected sufficient assessment evidence towards his final course observation. Well Done Dylan!
Primary School Cycling, as a ‘session activity’, was a new experience for our students, but one they have all gained new skills and self-confidence from. Our whole group performed in a professional manner and were a credit to not just themselves but also to the Warriors Performance and Education Academy. So much so that Fred asked if we could come back next week and help out again!
We would love to but unfortunately not Fred!.
Another glorious morning in Martinique! The views from the wrap around balcony of our residence are very special indeed.
Our group had a morning and afternoon off due to an evening session we attended at a local outdoor sports facility. So with this we decided to have a drive to a beach on the south west coast of the island.
Some of the group relaxed on the beach whilst others had a swim and snorkel in the sea. Whilst snorkeling, we were lucky enough to be joined by a large turtle swimming close to the shore line. This was an amazing experience for all staff and students who had the opportunity to swim alongside the turtle for well over an hour before the turtle left for deeper water.
Once again, this particular experience today is a key aspect of why a project such as ‘Moving Feet Opening Minds’ is so important to help young people develop, grow and ultimately enrich their lives.
The project through ‘Everything is Possible’ (http://www.everythingispossible.eu/) provides some wonderful opportunities and life long memories for anyone who participates in a project such as this in Martinique.
So this evening we attended a local sports facility, about a 10 minute drive from our residence. Our staff and students took part in and led a coaching and small sided games session for a Womens Rugby Union team.
We were kindly invited by the teams full time coach Richard, who welcomed us all and allowed our group into his club. Some quick passing and moving drills were put on by our staff coaches, with the students supporting in certain positions.
The training session led into a mini tag rugby game for the final part of the evening! It was the Martinique Womens Team v Wigan Warriors Education! It was a good, committed game and WE WON! For each of the project activities we have attended so far, we wanted to show our appreciation. So we presented Coach Richard and the womens team with ‘Five Sky Try Rugby League Balls’ for the club to keep. Our hope is that, long after we have left Martinique and returned home, we will have left a token of our gratitude and so they may use this new equipment in future training sessions. A massive thank you to Coach Richard and all the players for their hospitality, warmth and enthusiasm towards our staff and students.
Today we were based at the Martinique Institute for Sport for another important ‘Education Day’, allowing the students to continue with their course studies albeit thousands of miles away from Wigan!
The Martinique Institute for Sport is a purpose built facility, that accommodates the very best sportspersons the island and surrounding islands can offer. The sports facilities include a large indoor / outdoor sports hall for football, basketball, badminton etc. An outdoor multi-sports playing area for volley ball, net ball, hand ball. Also indoor facilities such as a Martial Arts Dojo, Gymnastics arena, plus boxing and ballet areas. A real top quality facility. With the temperatures outside above 30 degrees, our staff and students were happy to know that our classroom and IT suite was fully air conditioned!
On the way home after a long day with heads in the books, we stopped off at a local beach to cool off. A pleasant surprise to see the beach was ‘black volcanic sand’, making a change from the golden sandy beaches we have been used to. One thing is for sure, you will be hard pressed to find a more beautiful sunset anywhere in the world than what we witnessed here today. More special memories for sure.
Today on our morning travels up and along the coastal road, we stopped off to take some photos of the incredible views! We are becoming accustomed to reactions and comments from within the mini bus of “whoooa” and “wow look at that”. Really is a testament to Martinique, this is such a beautiful island.
Our students spent the morning delivering some rugby coaching drills to local school children. Welcomed by Coach Bolo, a real character and leading man in for Rugby in Martinique. Our students were given the opportunity to lead on some passing drills and fun games.
There was certainly a positive and enriching vibe between the groups, with plenty of laughter and enjoyment for the children. Some of our students are studying to becoming qualified Level 2 Sports Coaches, with aspirations of progressing and working within this sector once they leave our Performance and Education Academy in July 2017. The activity sessions today, with different students/coaches leading various skills and games sessions, will go a long way to boosting their overall qualities as a coach.
Once our coaching day was over, we traveled back to our residence for our evening meal and a movie night! A well earned rest is in order for all.
A bit of downtime this morning so we got right into a game of Five a Side Football at the Institute of Sport! Playing football in the Martinique sunshine led to many water breaks! All great competitive fun and let’s just say the match ended in a draw!
In the evening, our group travelled into the town of Les Trois-Ilets on the south east coast, for some sightseeing and to find a place for our evening meal.
Les Trois-Ilets is an affluent area of the island that hosts many tourists who stop off during their cruise around the Caribbean islands. After a stroll around the town and down onto the beach area, the group walked back towards the town centre to find a place to eat. We all decided upon the best restaurant within our budget and enjoyed some great food, with a lovely view of the sail boats moored in Les Trois-Ilets Harbour adding to our evening.
So this morning we joined Coach Richard and his womens rugby team for a Training Session on the beach!
An amazing place for our group to train, with beautiful weather as we have come to expect and the view from the beach of the Martinique coastline, as spectacular as ever.
Our group started off with a game of ‘pass-clap-catch’ with forfeits for dropping the ball of course! Plenty of fun and laughter, a good way of creating a positive vibe. Coach Richard took over the session and our group joined in various drills of possession, with two teams attacking and defending set areas, finishing with some speed/agility sprints on the sand.
Once again we were made to feel very welcome, coach Richard mixing up the teams so that our staff and students played alongside the Martinique players helped build good bonds and enhanced the session overall.
The rugby skills session on the sand lasted about 60 minutes, followed by a 30 minute drill of passing and possession in the sea! A brilliant way to cool off mixed with a tough work out in the water!
Later in the afternoon our group went for a stroll around a nature reserve, located on the north east coast of the island. Staff and students could roam round and take some time for themselves in what has been a busy and tiring two weeks. Some most likely reflecting on their amazing experience so far in Martinique.
So we have reached the final day of this two week Sports & Enrichment Project here on the beautiful island of Martinique.
This morning we invited our friends and project colleagues from Youth in the Town (YITT) to our residence, we wanted to present them with a token of our gratitude! Student Caius Jenkins was given the honour of presenting Phillippe, President of YITT, a Wigan Warriors Rugby League Playing Shirt on behalf of all staff and students.
Phillipe stated that he and all staff at Youth in the Town are now official supporters of WIGAN WARRIORS! This received a big round of applause as you can imagine!
We would like to take this opportunity to say a massive THANK YOU to all the team at Youth in the Town, for their warmth, friendship and support during our two week visit. We hope that our group from the Wigan Warriors Sports College have left you with a positive impression of our club and education academy.
We look forward to working with you all again in 2018!
Upon reflection, travelling for a combined 14 Hours to another part of the world has lead to an absolutely incredible experience for all participating staff and students. Having the opportunity to meet new people, make friends and spend time with individuals from a very different culture and back ground, has certainly been transformational.
We have witnessed our sports students take on various tasks that develop their independence, challenge their inner beliefs and self-confidence, pushing them outside of their comfort zones for the first time. All valuable experiences that will stand them in good stead for when they leave our college to embark on new careers in sport or onto university places.
We said from the outset, the goal was to create and develop a Sports Enrichment Project for our students, one that offered an international experience and one that would blow their minds, I am confident, having listened to feedback from the group, that we certainly achieved our goal!
Big Thank You to our partners ‘PROCO NW’, ‘EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE’ and ‘YOUTH IN THE TOWN ASSOCIATION’.
It has been a pleasure bringing you our Martinique Project Blog. I really hope you have enjoyed reading and following our journey over the last two weeks.
Kevin Head of Education, Wigan Warriors Sports College