Malawi tournament day brings out a village of support
Johanna Waide, Lilongwe
Rugby in Africa 2017’s Malawi tournament day drew big crowds to the rural Mzumanzi district, including the 450 children who took part, their teachers, as well as Group Village Heads (chiefs), local rugby clubs, G4S Malawi employees and supporters from the community.
Tournament Directors Richard and Harry ensured the humble pitch came alive, teaming Pride members with local buddy coaches to referee games for 50 different teams. They also briefed in the support of ten secondary school students from Bishop Mackenzie International School (BMIS) who, throughout the day, stepped up from helping as touch judges to refereeing defensive lines and, finally, full games. Richard shared:
“Engaging with BMIS students to assist on tournament day is another way Bhubesi Pride Foundation is able to empower people in Malawi to continue to play and coach rugby.
What stood out for me was the way the students took to helping with the games we organised for the special needs children from Lilongwe Demonstration School. The students really got stuck in and were having a lot of fun – you could see it was a great experience for them.”
The event was also a day of enjoyment for the dedicated team from G4S Malawi, who’d spent coaching week leading life-skills sessions for local children, implementing planned program logistics and taking part in a ‘Community Leadership and Value Building Workshop’ led by Pride member Sebastian.
“The session comprised both practical exercises and learning of leadership and team work principles. The workshop ensured we all now carry with us the key question, ‘how best can we work as a team while simultaneously reflecting on our leadership qualities’.”
Bridgette Sinthampi, National Account Manager, G4S Malawi
In his speech to the crowd just before presenting the schools with their PRIDE values trophies, G4S Malawi Head of Sales, Medson Kalambule, gave thanks to all the participating children and to all the dignitaries who had traveled from their respective communities to be together.
Long-term ‘friend of the Pride’ Wordsworth Rashid, who’s been working for the charity on a part-time basis since June 2016 to develop school and club rugby throughout the year, said that this year’s tournament day showcased just how much the children had learned from their coaches.
“Tournament day was awesome! It’s so amazing to see the kids interacting and playing so well – they’re running forwards, passing backwards and they know how to position themselves as a team on the pitch.
What is always special about BPF’s visit to Lilongwe is to see Pride members enjoying working with the children, especially the many new young faces who joined the program for the first time this year.
Creating an opportunity for these children to learn to play rugby helps us to achieve the development goals the charity is always working towards. We are inspiring the youth and it is them who will carry the sport and its values into the future.”
Personal Pride moments | Melanie and Lewis are inspired
On her last day with the Pride, volunteer Melanie wanted to find a way to thank a teacher she’d worked with at Mngwangwa Primary who’d shown enthusiasm all throughout coaching week. As a token of her appreciation, Melanie generously donated her running shoes, with the teacher saying in response: “I will remember you for the rest of my life.”
Tournament day was a chance for Pride member Lewis to introduce the team to Chisomo Mackson, a 10-year-old from the Chilombo district he’d met on the side of the pitch during coaching week. After talking to Chisomo, Lewis learned he wasn’t in school because he didn’t have access to uniforms or learning materials. Moved by his story, Lewis got in touch with a teacher from Chisomo’s local school – Chilombo Primary – to organise a personal donation.
Not only did the school support Lewis’ request; instead they provided uniforms, and gave the donation to Chisomo’s family who brought him new clothes and shoes, which he proudly wore when he came to watch the tournament. Lewis also gave Chisomo some books and pens, which meant he was able to go back to school the following week.
Lilongwe coaching week in numbers
- Number of participating schools/communities: 5 primary schools (John C, Mzumanzi, Chilombo, Mngwangwa and Lilongwe Demonstration)
- Number of children coached: 450
- Boys / girls: 58 / 42
- Percentage of children participating in 3 or more sessions: 89%
- Number of participating local coaches: 25
- Number of participating local coaches awarded a BPF buddy coach certificate: 24
The Pride’s two weeks in Lilongwe ended with a chance for volunteers to themselves play some rugby, as Project Manager Rory McGee organised a 7s tournament for Saturday afternoon. Having run coaching sessions with club sides over the previous two weeks, ‘Team Bhubesi’ battled it out with local clubs including Buffalos, Lions, Hippos and Mimbulu.
BPF Founder and Managing Director, Richard Bennett – who was on the ground for the Pride’s Malawi expedition leg – said that it was the best event of its kind the charity has hosted to date.
“In addition to his training and coaching week responsibilities, Rory put in all the necessary plans so our Pride members and local club sides could have a great afternoon of rugby at BMIS.
This meant booking the pitch, sorting out pick-ups and drop-offs for the local club players and bringing in Pride members to help referee and organise the draw. It’s always a lot of fun for our volunteers to have the opportunity to play rugby, balancing their coaching roles.”
Tournament day concludes with local dancers attending the event…