I had to magic up a 10 minute speech to over 100 kids today, with about five seconds notice – easy!
Not quite. I was asked to assist Mersey Tigers star, David Aliu, at a primary school in Liverpool, to do some basketball coaching (which was odd in itself because I’m not the tallest person in the world or the most coordinated with my hands).
Upon arrival, a lovely teacher by the name of…erm…Miss, escorted us to the assembly hall where a bunch of kids were, well – assembled!
‘What’s the plan?’ I asked David.
‘They want us to give a 15 minute speech then take the Year 6 out for some exercises. So if you can give a 10 minute speech about the club and the sport then pass it over to me that would be great.’
I particularly liked the way Aliu divided the talking time up evenly there.
Before I knew it the head teacher had introduced us and I was on my feet, a hundred kids gawping at my unprepared self, waiting for some kind of exciting performance that the teahcers had, no doubt, built it up to be.
I began with:
‘So, who here has already been to a Mersey Tigers basketball game?’ I said it in a surprisingly camp fashion – a little bit Blue Peter and a little bit Gok Wan. Still, it worked and I got a response which seemed to ignite this whole speech full of basketball facts accompanied with animated arm movements and smiles.
I morphed into a basketball guru and a complete season review for the Mersey Tigers came flooding out of my mouth, as if the knowledge was kegged in the back of my mind and that first question stabbed a tap into the old wood.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so conscious of my mouth. It felt dry. Swollen. I could envisage the white residue forming at the corners of my lips. Nonetheless, I finished my fully improvised speech and, apparently, it was a success.
David finished his ‘half’ of the presentation and we asked the children if they had any questions, two of which really stuck out:
Hilarious 7 year old in the front row:
“Do you know your brain, yeah? Is that connected to your mind?”
The second question came from a Year 6 trying to suss me out:
“So you’re press, yeah?”
“Where’s your camera then?”
“I don’t need it today, mate. I’ll have one at the games though.”
“Okay. You have a notebook and that, yeah?”
“And a laptop and that, yeah?”
“Yeah all that, mate.”