London residents ready for bike challenge
13:30 26 December 2015
Duo to pedal 4,000 miles for Cricket Without Boundaries
Forget giving up chocolate or going to the gym more often, Stratford resident Jamie Burton and Carl Ferguson, of Islington, have a New Year’s resolution to cycle 4,000 miles across Africa to raise money for UK charity Cricket Without Boundaries.
Coinciding with England’s Test Match against South Africa at the Newlands Cricket Ground, Cape Town, the intrepid duo will start their adventure there on January 4, pedalling across nine countries before finishing in the Rwandan capital of Kigali 100 days later.
The “Great CWB Cycle” has been timed to celebrate the 10th anniversary of CWB – a volunteer-run organisation that uses cricket to promote HIV/Awareness and as a vehicle for social development tool in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The cause is close to the heart of both London residents, who have coached tens of thousands of youngsters and trained more than a thousand coaches on the CWB 11 projects they have undertaken between them.
Originally from Edinburgh, 29-year-old Burton is head of marketing at Inside Government and a former ICC (International Cricket Coach) Europe and Sky Sports Young Coach of the Year.
He said: “We want to spread the CWB message here and in Africa. It’s something we massively believe in. We believe in the power of cricket, we believe in the power of connecting cricket to the HIV/AIDS message.
“Part of why we are doing this is fundraising, but by far the biggest motivation is raising awareness about the charity.”
Ferguson ia a 37-year-old actor and a keen cricketer for Bedfordshire’s Flitwick CC and added: “CWB really is an awesome charity and something I am immensely proud to be a part of.
“I have seen first-hand the power its work can have on communities and I am determined to help in whatever way I can to ensure more and more projects take place to help us achieve the charity’s aim of ‘Bowling AIDS out of Africa’.”
Through CWB the two friends have coached Maasai Warriors in Kenya, former child soldiers in Uganda and used cricket to help rebuild communities in Rwanda following the genocide.
And although they have never taken a trip together, their personal experiences are united by Baharini, a school on the edge of a slum in Nakuru, Kenya.
When Burton visited in 2012 the school – which includes a high proportion of children with HIV/AIDS - had just started playing cricket.
On that trip he met class teacher Maggie Kamau who took part on a training day run by CWB volunteers and brought two teams to a cricket festival the charity had organised.
Although the teams struggled to compete, Jamie and his fellow volunteers were overcome by the spirit of the children - all of whom lived in severe poverty and many who were physically smaller than their peers through malnutrition.
Around 18 months later Ferguson also visited Nakuru and found that Maggie had transformed the school into the most feared team in the district, with a number of their players having been picked for Kenya youth teams.
Burton said: “Maggie had no cricket background and by her own admission would never have had the confidence to teach cricket if she hadn’t been on that CWB coaching course.
“To see what she is achieving now is incredibly satisfying. The success the children are having has also changed the way they are viewed by pupils from other schools.
“Previously they didn’t want to interact with them because they were from the slums. But through their cricketing ability they have a new-found respect for them.”
During the trip they hope to meet up with Maggie and many of the other local coaches, teachers and CWB coaching ambassadors they have encountered on past projects.
The pair plan to camp or stay with friends during the trip and are funding all costs of the expedition themselves – including flights – to ensure all money raised goes to CWB.
As well as passing through South Africa, Rwanda and Kenya the route will take in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
They will encounter temperatures of over 30 degrees and climb more than 55,000 metre in total, but will be given a welcome boost when they arrive in Rwanda where they will ride with the national cycling team.
Although Ferguson has run eight London Marathons he admits the Great CWB Cycle will be unchartered territory, especially after starting his preparations on board a “Boris bike.”
Since then the duo have stepped up their training and had a significant upgrade thanks to bike manufacturer Surly, who donated two of their “Long Haul Trucker” models for the journey.
For more information on the Great CWB Cycle please go to thegreatcwbcycle.com or to donate visit justgiving.com/thegreatcwbcycle.
For full details about Cricket Without Boundaries – including how to volunteer – go to cricketwithoutboundaries.com.