Market Rasen and Louth RFC forge links with Sierra Leone
Rohit Wadhwani moved to the West African country for a new job two years ago and quickly became involved with supporting the Sierra Leonean national rugby which was picking itself up after the Ebola outbreak.
The small Lincolnshire club decided to do their bit by donating their home kit to Sierra Leone rugby, and Wadhwani delivered the kits to the grateful players.
“Sierra Leonean rugby cannot afford its own kit,” he said. “Once they tried on the kit and “bluffed”, a Sierra Leonean word for showing off, they wanted photos taken of the special occasion.
“One of the players Majid, said ‘now we feel a proper team’.”
A sevens match was organised to mark the occasion and show off their new kit to the public who are gradually coming round to the idea of rugby in a football-loving nation.
“Rugby has helped some young people by giving them a sense of community and a means to channel their energies into positive means,” Wadhwani added.
Western audiences often only associate Sierra Leone with tragedy and trauma.
Its brutal civil war was widely reported in the 1990s, while last year this small country made headlines for the Ebola crisis in 2015 when more than 14,000 cases resulted in close to 4,000 deaths.
Many Sierra Leone rugby players were affected directly or indirectly by the deadly Ebola outbreak.
“Sierra Leone is often in the headlines for all the wrong reasons,” he said. “It has beautiful tropical landscapes and some of the friendliest people I have met.”
“The weekly rugby sessions were cancelled during peak Ebola time to avoid any bodily contact.
“But over the past year players have been slowly returning with renewed enthusiasm and camaraderie that rugby can provide.”