Pride eyes: Maputo, Mozambique
- Words: Michael Hendricks
- Images: Matea Ilieva
- Edited by: Michael Hendricks
We knew that Mozambique would be a big change for us; a marked departure from the way we’ve been doing things, in everything from the language to our transportation setup. But it also revealed itself early on that those changes would be a welcome part of a brand new experience, one we were eager to delve into.
After a travel day full of flights, we started a busy week on Monday morning with the first of five consecutive coach education sessions with Maputo Rugby Club. It’s easily the most we’ve done with any group, and it took some planning and delegation to deliver everything we wanted to cover: the laws of rugby union, coaching methodology and how to plan sessions, useful drills to improve core skills, a course in refereeing, and important pointers on ensuring safety.
Everything was done outside, in the interest of keeping things as active as possible. By the time our sessions were over, the results spoke for themselves. We could see the changes coaching alongside the guys in the afternoon. I can say with confidence that everyone benefited a great deal from all the time spent together, and that was clear from the strong relationships our team had built with the local coaches. We were colleagues working toward something truly special and we had become friends along the way.
“MRC’s activities have grown a lot in the last three years and it could be complicated managing that growth but our interaction with Bhubesi Pride Foundation has helped to eliminate some of our challenges, from how best to train our players and the values we can give to our teams.”
Jaime Langa, Club Manager and Coach, Maputo Rugby Club
After our coach education sessions each morning, we’d eat lunch with the MRC coaches and head out to our afternoon sessions with the school children. Some taught on school grounds, while others used communal fields for groups composed of multiple schools. Each provided children eager to learn the sport and compete. Many of our buddy coaches were familiar with the kids already, and that proved key to what we were looking to accomplish: imparting our values alongside the sport of rugby itself. Our team did an exemplary job of emphasising good behaviour over good play, just as we hope to see everywhere we go.
“The kids here love rugby as much as we do, and it’s always special to work with enthusiasm. We love working with the Pride because it makes us better at what we try and do everyday.”
David Alfredo Sigauque, buddy coach, Maputo Rugby Club
On top of all that, some of our coaches attended training sessions with Maputo Rugby Club, playing alongside many of the coaches we worked with all week. It was good for our team to get a runaround in, and we had a blast getting involved in the practices they run when we’re not around. They’re looking to place a greater emphasis on rugby union, and we were able to help them resolve some issues with their set pieces and continuity. It was rewarding to build rugby in Maputo on basically every level there is, from young children up to some of the top men’s players in the country.
“For the fourth year, our week with Bhubesi Pride Foundation and G4S Mozambique was one of the greatest moments of our season. We are always very excited about your arrival. Every year, the Pride staff brings us their enthusiasm to teach about the values of rugby.
This year, the sessions with our coaches were incredible and the impact that will have during the season will be fantastic. During the afternoons with our kids all over Maputo, we could see coaches putting what they learned out on the field – totally amazing.”
Alexandre Marques, President, Maputo Rugby Club
We relied on our partners at G4S Mozambique for most of our logistics (with Rory and Damian driving Nala to Lilongwe from Dar). Our driver for the week, Armando, filled in admirably, moving us around the bustling city for hours each day. G4S provided lunch daily, delivering bags upon bags of pre-packaged meals for us and the local coaches, so we could all eat together at Fatima’s Backpackers, our home for the week.
G4S had even more to offer on tournament day, handling the DJ and sound system, providing a medal to each child who played, and again feeding everyone there. They brought a huge contingent who helped hand out the food and medals and cheered on the children all day long, adding to a great atmosphere at Parque dos Continuadores, home of MRC. The kids played hard and celebrated together with a massive dance party at centre field. Times like those, you just feel lucky to be a part of the work we do.
“Putting the tournament together was an amazing experience from start to finish; you really get a sense of the work the kids put in all week. Tournament days are the best days for me as a coach and I think for us as a team altogether. They’re so intense but incredibly rewarding. There’s just nothing like it.”
Becca Wye, BPF Pride coach
We have a favourite phrase here within the Pride – we’ll take any excuse to drop the word ‘problem’ in lieu of ‘challenge,’ and that the approach got some serious mileage during our time in Mozambique. But the good so outweighed the ‘challenging’: the personal bonds with the children and the coaches who will stay with them throughout the year, the beautiful weather, the delicious food, the vibrant city and the warm and welcoming people who filled it.
MAPUTO COACHING PROGRAM IN NUMBERS
- Number of participating schools/communities: 5 (ADPP, Kongulote, Maxaquene, Mafalala, Manguanine)
- Number of children coached: 245
- Boy / girl ratio: 58 / 42
- Percentage of children participating in 3 or more sessions: 70%
- Number of participating local coaches: 19
- Number of participating local coaches awarded a BPF coach certificate: 19
Most of the team experienced all that and more on a well-earned week off in Tofo, just a brisk nine hour bus ride up the coast. The seemingly untouched beaches and clear waters bordered a tiny but lively town, teeming with things to see and do. Some of us snagged some rough sunburns for our trouble but we kept pretty active, getting outside to surf, paddleboard, scuba dive and take a rewarding ocean safari where the team swam with dolphins, manta rays and one incredible whale shark. At week’s end, we had the pleasure of another 9-hour bus ride back to Maputo but the time had done us all a lot of good. With Malawi just a day away, everyone’s fully charged and ready to get back to work.
Would you like to join the Pride, coach with us in Africa and contribute to the charity’s goals? Apply for our 2019 team.