Our team of RTP Athlete Ambassadors made it to Liberia safe and sound on Tuesday night. The team includes Mo Farah and James McIlroy from Great Britian Track and Field, Whitney Ping of US Table Tennis Fame, the Dutch Decathalete Chiel Warners, Kei Kamara of Sierra Leone and the Columbus Crew MLS Soccer Club, and me (a kayaker from Oakville). Martin Barnard and Pamela Rice are also with us from the Right To Play HQ in Toronto.

Today we visited a community in about an hours drive (maybe 30km, the roads are Crazy!) from the capital of Liberia, Monrovia and played with about 600 local kids for a few hours. The coaches, teachers and kids were incredible with their enthusiastic smiles. The amount of joy that sport and play adds to a community like this is incredible to witness.

Liberia was devasted by civil wat for 14 years, the result was almost complete destruction of their infrastructure. The bullethole ridden lamposts haven't shed light on the streets for years; decent roads, electricity, plumbing and adequate shelter are limited or absent even in the capital city of Monrovia. I've never been to a place like this, and seeing it all for myself has been enlightening to say the very least. The kids still love to play and laugh though, and must be allowed to take at least that for granted.



Big Halloween party at the US Olympic Training Center yesterday!

From left to right:

Me as Cupid
Anders Gustafsson as a Caveman
Coach Rami Zur as a cowboy-hick-dirtbag
Jeff Smoke as a Nerd in all his own clothing



Today between our training sessions, Anders, Jeff and I drove up the Californian coastline towards Los Angeles to visit our mutual sponsor, Oakley. They gave us a couple new pairs of sunglasses for paddling... Radars, and Flak Jackets (photo: radars on top). The shades are great as always, and it's really cool to see the factory and head office. Great to see Oakley in the Christmas spirit too, on October 30th. And yeah... we're standing next to a torpedo.



For the next two weeks I'll be in San Diego, California training at the US Olympic Training Center. The air quality is improving, now that the fires are mostly under control. I'm training mostly with Jeff Smoke and Rami Zur, we went out paddling on the ocean on paddleboards and surfskis for something different yesterday, which was awesome. Training at the OTC here in Chula Vista is always an awesome experience, with so many world class athletes from other sports, the excellent facilities and gourmet unlimited food. The Americans know how to treat their athletes...



I had the distinct pleasure of speaking to Crescent School on behalf of Right to Play this past Monday. The men of Crescent School are kicking off a program called "Make Your Goals Count", where they will collect pledges of donations to Right to Play as they accomplish their athletic goals. This is an inspiring initiative, one that I can tell is truly important to these guys. Crescent School generously provided Right to Play with a donation after I spoke, and presented me with a journal. I'm planning to bring the journal along with me to Liberia, and I'll go back to Crescent School in January to share a few stories. Crescent School has a Global Outreach program; every year a group of students travels to a disadvantaged nation in an effort to develop as more caring and contributing members of our global society. Way to go Crescent School!