Sofia Domingos: BPF’s 2018 Project Manager
It is with great pride and anticipation that Bhubesi Pride Foundation can announce its 2018 Project Manager:
In January this year, Sofia – like our incoming group of 2018 Pride members – was herself packing her bags and making her final preparations before flying out to Kenya to embark on her rugby coaching mission with the charity as a 5-month Pride member. Now, less than a year later, Sofia continues to consolidate her time in Africa and get set for a whole new challenge: Leading the Pride.
Selected to project manage Bhubesi Pride Foundation’s expedition in 2018, Sofia will be with her Pride member team for the entirety of the charity’s 7.5 month project, from January to September. Here, we catch up with Sofia in interview…
BPF: You volunteered with the Pride for 5 months in 2017. What inspired you to apply for a place on the team as a Pride member initially?
SD: “I heard about BPF for the first time on Total Rugby TV in 2012, but it wasn’t the right time for me to apply, as I had just started a new job in rugby development in Portugal – however I kept the idea in the back of my mind.
After settling in Dublin a few years later, I checked the website again and applied just to see where that might take me. Working as volunteer was a goal for me and it felt like the right time to take on the challenge. It was also a point in my life that I had to shake things up a little bit – I was getting stuck in a routine and that was not what I wanted for myself.”
What impact did you feel the team made in 2017 and how do you think your efforts built on the work of previous Pride members?
“I think we became a proper team, not just because we were representing the Pride, but because we made the effort to demonstrate what it means to be a team – we got to know each other really well, had good communication and we were all working towards the same goal.
This meant the good days became amazing and memorable days and any challenging days were just days where we had to work harder together. I think the previous Pride members did great work in previous years because we were so warmly welcomed everywhere we went.
We had great experiences in 2017, not just because of our hard work, but because of what all Pride members have been doing in Africa since 2011. Pride members have been working on these relationships for so long and we saw how that legacy stays within the communities we visited.”
What did you enjoy about living, traveling and working in Africa?
“Some of my favourite moments in Africa were the times we had after supper. No TV, no wifi, no phones, just us. Playing games or just talking was the best. I enjoyed missing things we take for granted at home, because when we didn’t have them in Africa, it was so simple to live without them. The downtime also allowed us to reflect on the work we were doing, while planning for the next part of the program.
We even had one day/night with no electricity!
Another favourite memory from Africa was coaching the local coaches and the relationships we built with these groups during our stay in each country. The coaches were so passionate about the game and they wanted to learn so much!”
Not long after leaving South Africa, you applied to lead the charity’s next expedition in 2018. What were your motivations to return?
“Reflecting on our tournament days… there we got to see all our work come together and we were able to celebrate with all the schools. I want to go back and see those children again, find out how are they doing and what else we can do for them to help them continue to improve.
The team I was part of also made me want to return. We were a very interesting group in 2017 – different personalities, different ages and from so many places in the world, but we had so much fun together… all that made me wonder about 2018 and how much I want to go back there and be part of it again!”
Sofia, you’ll be leading the project for 7-and-a-half months. That’s the largest program ever planned by BPF and you’re the first to run it from start to finish. How does that feel?
“It feels like a great challenge but I am motivated to see myself and the charity succeed to make 2018 one of the best programs yet. Next year I will have the pleasure of going back to some incredible places but there will also be opportunities to work with and visit some new places, like Maun in Botswana.
I can’t wait to meet the new volunteer team and do as much as I can to provide them the best experience of their lives.”
What excites you about leading the 2018 Pride?
“It’s exciting to think about who will be a part of RiA 2018 and SARE 2018! It will be good to see some familiar faces, like our drivers Damian and Simeon, as well re-establish our very special Pride team culture and work closely with each of the Pride members…
I’m confident the 2018 Pride will be amazing!”
Tell us about the greatest challenges you think you will face and how you intend to overcome them?
“Our time in Nala [BPF’s charity minibus] can be a challenge, as we do spend a long time together with limited personal space, driving on roads that are not as good as those we are used to, for hours at a time sometimes. Also, our vehicle setup is far superior to most in Africa!
I will support the team by helping them to manage their patience according to the time spent on the road and will also remind them about the incredible and unique sights we’ll see along the journey that will make their experience so memorable. Climbing Dune 45 at sunrise and seeing Fish River Canyon, for example, were some of my favourite adventures with the Pride – and you can only do and see these things if you’re willing to travel there by road.
I am sure a lot of other challenges will come up during my 7-and-a-half months in Africa but I know from my experience as a Pride member in 2017 that the Pride can learn a lot along the way, and that we can finish up every week knowing we are creating a lasting legacy.”
You were a big help to Rory, Piers and Richard in their roles as PM this year. How can your 2018 Pride members help you to achieve the greatest success next year?
“It’s simple, they (or we) just have to work as a team – day and night, help each other whenever you can and… communicate.”
You met with BPF’s Operations Director, Rory McGee, at Murrayfield Stadium recently, to begin your PM training. How are your preparations going?
“There was so much preparation work Piers and Rory did in their roles as Project Manager that the team didn’t see. I now have a better understanding about how organised the charity’s operations are behind the scenes.
Talking about what we can improve for next year’s project makes everything much more real and fascinating.
I can’t wait to get back to Africa!”