Two big weeks of community coaching in the warm heart of Africa
Johanna Waide, Lilongwe
Known as the ‘warm heart of Africa’, Malawi proved the ideal setting for the Pride to welcome Project Manager, Rory, and three new Pride members, Kate, Melanie and Richard.
Rory – who manages Rugby in Africa 2017 on the ground until its completion in South Africa in July, followed by the full Southern Africa Rugby Explorer (SARE) 2017 project – kicked-off week one by leading team training sessions to induct new members, as well as to help refine the skills and knowledge of longer-term coaches.
For Kate and Melanie, who’d not coached rugby before, the discussions and practical exercises covered meant they could hit the ground running and lead drills and games with the children at their schools straight away. Kate added:
“Everyone in the Pride is so supportive and I’ve been able to learn a lot from fellow volunteers. We’re all here for different reasons but can come together to share coaching experiences with children and clubs from the local communities in Lilongwe.”
The Pride hosted a bespoke coaching session designed to empower and up-skill teachers from the five schools involved in the Lilongwe coaching week – Mngwangwa, Mzumanzi, Chilombo and John C Primary Schools, as well as Lilongwe Demonstration School. Despite it being school holidays, multiple teachers from each school gave up their personal time to attend the hands-on session. Their engagement continued to build once coaching week officially began – another highlight for Kate, who worked with Mzumanzi Primary.
“Everyday we saw the children’s rugby skills improve, but it was equally rewarding to see the teachers’ coaching abilities progressively develop. Their confidence grew so that, by the end of the week, the teachers were leading their own sessions. It was great to see the legacy of the charity’s work start to take shape – I hope the teachers continue to coach and teach rugby’s values.”
Pride members travelled each day to coaching through cornfields and small villages, as all schools were located outside of Lilongwe in the rural district. Coaches Iain and Harry, who worked at John C Primary, even had the chance to experience an extra, authentic Malawian element on their morning commute, taking to the final leg of their trip using pushbike taxis.
Rory and the team also coordinated daily clinics with local rugby club teams, all of which are striving to play as much as they can, learning from all whom join them in Lilongwe.
Another unique element to the Pride’s time in Malawi was the opportunity to coach children with special needs at Demonstration School. Pride members Sofia and Richard adapted their planning to ensure children with physical or mental disabilities were fully immersed in every session. Richard shared:
“Demonstration School has around 2,600 students, including 60 with special needs. Disabled children can sometimes get left in a corner, so it was wonderful we were able to involve them in the coaching week as much as the other students.
Not only could you tell that these children were really enjoying themselves from the smiles on their faces, but the inclusive sessions helped break down barriers. Other students assisted with things like pushing wheelchairs and were able empower the teachers by introducing new and different games the whole school can get behind.”
Harry and his best friend…
… and some downtime for the Pride at Lake Malawi at the weekend.