The Trento shirts reach as far as Kenya. They are worn by the rugby players of the Sawa Sawa Academy in Timboni, a village overlooking the Indian Ocean in the south-east of the state, about a hundred kilometers from Mombasa where Marco Canova, a Paduan former player, rugby coach and volunteer on occasion of the test matches and Six Nations matches and father of Tommaso who has been playing in the ranks of the Gialloblù for some seasons. After a period of vacation spent in the area, the electrocution and the decision to spend more and more time in schools to teach the fundamentals of the oval ball: “Ten years ago – explains Marco on the phone – I came to this area of Kenya for a holiday and I was “struck” by the love of children. As a former player, although never at a high level, I brought the ball with me. In two weeks I let at least 50 kids play and I promised myself I’d come back.”
Ten years after the holiday Marco returns to Kenya last October, but with a completely different goal: “I currently manage some sports facilities in the Padua area – he continues – and I am a physical education teacher. I needed to clear my head and pass on what I can do, so I decided to take 23 days of my life to go to a school and teach rugby to the local youth. I called some friends I had met here to find me a house and a school where I could teach physical education. I started my journey in the Sawa Sawa Academy, a rather structured school where I taught handball and volleyball (there is no need to teach physical education because all the kids move and run from an early age) and in the last few days I tried to include rugby and students and teachers really liked the idea”.
Word spreads in a short time and Marco gets to know another reality: “Thanks to one of the many volunteers who work in Kenya from the Jua Yetu association, I came into contact with a suburban school, the Mama Rossana Academy – in the middle of nowhere , built with mud and made up of four classrooms where children aged 5 and over are crammed into very little space. Back home in Italy I started thinking and what could be better than going back there and bringing the oval ball?”. This is where Trento rugby comes into play. Despite having a good rugby tradition deriving from the period of British occupation, material for practicing the sport is scarce in the peripheral areas: “I asked the club of which I am a sponsor and where my son Tommaso plays for help and I found an incredible availability. So I left for Timboni with 5 bags full of shirts, balls, bibs, cones and material in good condition that was no longer used. Now every morning I go back to school and teach an hour of rugby with a final practice match. After only two lessons the boys were already starting to play with each other, so much so that they asked me to come back to them in the afternoon too, teaching rugby but also other disciplines including swimming, an absolute novelty. There I use the material, while the uniforms intended for grown kids are used by the kids from Sawa Sawa Academy. My day now consists of 40 minute lessons in the morning and 2 afternoons playing games. Until recently there was football, handball and volleyball, now every Wednesday there are 4 teams that play rugby and have tournaments among themselves”.