This is blog 5 of a short series that has been written to give readers some of the context behind the reason that the Kicking Off charity has been started and why the town of Mpraeso and surrounding area in Ghana has been chosen for the first Kicking Off project. As the Kicking Off team builds up to the first ‘pilot’ tournament in March, we will publish regular blogs to add some personal insights into how and why each member has become involved in starting the charity.
This blog covers the period between November 2016 to the start of January 2017.
With a crack team assembled and our tickets booked, my life instantly changed. Because of a drunken idea, I was 8 months down the line and suddenly, for the first time, responsible not just for myself, but for leading a team of talented people who I’d managed to ‘hoodwink’ into believing my idea. For the first time since the idea of Kicking Off began, I was filled with not only a desire to succeed, but also a fear of failing and letting down both my team and my mates. Kicking Off was now a real thing and to make it succeed, my approach in ‘taking it slow’ would have to be massively changed.
The first thing I did, to manage this new pressure, to was call a meeting in a local drinking establishment. At the meeting, myself, Hattie and Thom sat for about 2 hours, planning for the tournament and deciding what exactly we felt we would be able to achieve on the charity's first ever trip.
After deciding on the approach of giving out goodie bags, medical checks, free food, and some of the structure around the tournament itself, we were able to divvy out bits of work between ourselves. Hattie would lead on sourcing items for goodie bags, Ellis would focus on registering the charity as a CIO, Thom would focus on getting everything he needs to make a super slick set of videos, Elaine would research into what medical assistance we could give to the kids and I would try and keep an oversight on everything, helping everyone out, whilst working on my own projects such as online presence, liaison with our contact Rebecca, and planning the football tournament itself.
One of the toughest lessons for me has been learning to delegate my work. In my normal life and at work I like to try and do everything myself (even if I’m not the best person for the job). When it came to running Kicking Off, it very quickly became clear to me that this wasn’t going to be possible, but at times throughout this process it has taken me longer than it should have done to ask the right people for help in getting things done!
In line with having a slick and powerful online ‘brand’, I wanted to have a strong website that would entice interested people with its professionalism rather than repel them with an amateurish feel. I went back to my talented designer friend and, after a whole, brain-numbing weekend, we came up with the site you are looking at now! As web designers, with little or no experience, a good deal of guesswork -
combined with no small amount of alcohol - allowed me to get exactly the look and feel for the website that I was after.
With the website ready, Hattie and myself were able to 'up' the outreach requests for ‘Goodie Bag’ donations in a far more professional way. At the same time, I was working on a child protection policy, organising a sponsored walk, arranging a trip to see Doctor Elaine in Belfast, arranging visa documents for the team, working with some of my family to create a structured regional network of outreach teams, and whole lot of other random things, whilst trying to maintain the hectic social calendar that comes with having a full time job at Christmas time! The pressure was on and my life had truly gone from 0-100MPH in the click of a button.
The first weekend of January, I went to Belfast, to have a fun, touristy weekend with my friends Dentist Sarah and Doctor Elaine. Belfast is a great city if you ever want somewhere to visit; the people are friendly, the beer is good, the music is excellent and it’s just overall laid back and excellent!
The more important reason for the visit was to meet with Doctor Elaine and discuss the medical requirements for the trip. Due to the rota/ shift patterns for doctors only being published several months in advance, Elaine had had to wait for that weekend to be able to 100% confirm her leave and get her ticket booked for the trip. By the end of that weekend, the shocking realisation came to light, that her leave had been denied by the shift god and very sadly there was absolutely no way she would be able to come to Ghana.
The trip went from a position of relative preparedness to complete disarray in one excellent but terrible weekend. I guess that’s just the luck of the Irish!