Lilongwe: City of rugby enthusiasts!
Written by Kristina Koch
Malawi is a great country, that’s widely known. But that Malawi is also a great rugby country became clear this week as the Pride visited Lilongwe.
Can’t stop rugby in Malawi
“From our very first visit to the schools, it was clear that this week would be a great success. The teachers showed incredible enthusiasm and support and could not wait to get started! In fact, they were so eager to learn more about the game, that together with local rugby ambassador Wordsworth Rashid, they encouraged teachers from other schools to join us for a coach education session on Tuesday afternoon.
Over the four years that I have been working on this project, this workshop has been one of my most memorable and rewarding moments. Also the tournament day saw so many people from the community come out and cheers on the young rugby players – I simply couldn’t be happier with what we achieved in Malawi this week.”
Bhubesi Pride Founder & Director Richard Bennett
Apart from the coach education (read more about it in this feature), Bhubesi Pride’s team also visited a special needs class and introduced more than 20 children with physical and mental disabilities to rugby. First, the children learned some basic rugby skills and then, in a second step, the Pride’s coaches brought together disabled and able-bodied children to do their new rugby drills with each other. It was an enjoyable day for both sides as the children, who are normally taught separately from their “mainstream” peers, shared laughter and fun with their rugby mates.
Everybody came to play!
Shambashi Kadzamira, teacher for children with disabilities loved the Pride’s visit:
“This was a great day as for the first time ever people from abroad came to visit our school. It was really touching for me to see how the Pride’s coaches engaged with the children. Often these children are outsiders and do not get to participate in fun activities because of their, sometimes even marginal, disabilities – today they were the stars and felt that they were on the same level with their peers from the standard classes. I hope Bhubesi Pride visits us again next year – or sooner!”
Fellow teacher Gertrude Ngwira couldn’t agree more:
“Not only does the exercise help them train their bodies and improve their balance, but the way the coaches interact with them makes them feel integrated. These children experience a lot of prejudice and stigma, but today they feel they are important and that they are human.”
Eventually, this busy coaching week concluded with a memorable tournament on Friday which involved 18 teams and over 20 people from the community as coaches and referees. With more than 200 people attending – village chiefs, parents, teachers and local dancers – it was evident how much the local community had embraced the event and this great sport of rugby.
Amongst the many enthusiastic visitors from near and far was also Aileen King, PE teacher at Bishop MacKenzie International School in Lilongwe:
“We are grateful for the opportunity to be involved and to have some of our students referee today’s games. This is a great way of connecting people and communities using the game of rugby. We definitely contribute with our school to keep the local students playing and we hope to organise a number of friendly games with local schools to bridge the gap until the Pride returns to Malawi.”
Nargis Khan (left), Head of HR at G4S Malawi, was giving out delicious snacks for the young rugby players
G4S, as ever a strong supporter of the Pride, left no stone unturned to make sure the tournament was going to be a success: Cupcakes for the children, music, dancers for the crowd and awards for the beaming members of the winning teams made it a truly memorable day for all participants.
Managing Director for G4S Malawi, Colin Stanley, was enthusiastic about the tournament Bhubesi Pride had put together:
“I recognize many kids from last year’s event and I am very pleased to see that they have all kept up playing rugby. Especially the fact that so many people from the community got involved as coaches makes this a very promising and sustainable project. It is a privilege for G4S to be involved with this rugby initiative and we definitely want to continue our cooperation with Bhubesi Pride over many years to come.”
Chiefs from the area came to cheer on the children from their villages
- Primary schools involved: Mzumanzi Primary School, Mngwangwa Primary School
- Participating pupils: 180
- Percentage pupils participating in 3 or more sessions: 100%
- Boy/girl ratio: 50:50
- Additional delivery: Coach education session with more than 20 participants; Coaching session for local children with disabilities
- Buddy coaches empowered: Mzumanzi Primary School: 9 (5 for level 2, 4 for level 3); Mngwangwa Primary School: 9 ( 4 for level 3, 3 for level 2); Demonstration School 2 (2 for level 1)
- School progression awards: Silver