Pride eyes: Zambia
- Words: Hal Sparke
- Images: Matea Ilieva & Michael Hendricks
- Edited by: Michael Hendricks
The Pride left Malawi with high hopes after a successful two weeks based in Lilongwe. We headed to our next destination – Zambia. After a long journey and a busy border crossing, we eventually reached our first stop, a camp in the South Luangwa National Park. It is difficult not to add cliché-laden superlatives when describing a place such as South Luangwa National Park; but it was a truly stunning location for the Pride to visit.
Our camp lay by the river where, a few hundred metres away, we could see resting hippos sheltering themselves from the warm rays of the afternoon sun. While at our camp, the group made the most of their opportunities, and the majority took part in both a night and morning game drive to see the riches of wildlife the park had to offer. With sightings of hippos, elephants, zebra, sleeping lions and even a rare leopard, our ‘Pride’ was not left disappointed.
For more photos from South Luangwa, scroll down…
While many of us feel as though we could stay there forever, it was time to continue our journey, with a night stop at Bridge Camp in the Luangwa Valley that saw us camping between the borders of Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It was then on to Lusaka, Zambia’s capital.
The group went through a bit of transition, with eight-week Pride member James leaving us, and Scotsmen Michael and Kyle joining. With every seat in Nala filled, the team headed north to the town of Kabwe, home base for our next coaching week.
Kabwe gave the Pride a challenge in diversity, as our five coaching bases included two schools, two orphanages and a local rugby academy, therefore bringing an obvious contrast in the types of children and institutions we were to work with. Tom Chaloba – former Zambian rugby player and current head of youth rugby development – was on hand to help us navigate our time through this quaint copper-belt town.
Tom is one of those figures who encapsulates a sporting voice. Tom’s stature in the Zambian rugby community spoke for itself but, despite his tireless efforts, Tom was quick to recognise the significance of the Pride’s influence in his town.
“Just the sight of the Bhubesi bus raises expectations for the people of Kabwe and the kids can’t wait to get started with everything Bhubesi related.”
Tom Chaloba, Die Hard Rugby
While in Kabwe, we were involved in multiple activities based at the Green Eagles Rugby Club, in addition to our regular coaching sessions. These included a coach education session, various coaching opportunities with the men’s senior squad and even a rare opportunity to work with the women’s side, running a training session with their 7s team.
“Rugby is going high in Zambia; it’s improving a great deal. When we started, we didn’t have partners like Bhubesi Pride Foundationand G4S Zambia. It’s growing and I couldn’t be happier.”
Gillian Mwape, buddy coach
However, alongside the hard work, we had plenty of time for some pretty special social occasions, including playing touch rugby against various Green Eagles players, watching a Zambian national league match (admittedly with only one side ‘showing up’ for the occasion), a visit to the local copper mine – a historic stalwart base of the Kabwe economy – and enjoying some of the finer shops of the town, most notably a coffee and cake shop! This was where we bought the cake for Pride member Finn’s birthday, who turned 19 midway through the week.
As is the case wherever we go, we were lucky to have G4S [Zambia] assisting us throughout our time in Kabwe. During our stay, their team worked so hard to help the Pride navigate the town and make the best of what it had to offer. With her wealth of knowledge, our main G4S Zambia contact, Pauline Chilumba, knows how important BPF’s presence in Kabwe is.
“Vulnerable children within the area get a sense of belonging. They don’t feel any different from all these other kids who are privileged to have access to all these activities.
I feel I’m privileged; I have so many things that these kids don’t. I’m just lucky that I get to give something back. Simply to see a smile on all the young ones’ faces warms my soul.”
Pauline Chilumba, Corporate Affairs Officer, G4S Zambia
We are never as so appreciative of our partners’ and G4S’ efforts as we are on tournament days. Freshly cut grass, banners, tents, gazebos, live music, and even a marching band greeted us. Thank you G4S Zambia! All we needed was a group of enthusiastic coaches ready to make it a successful day. Thankfully, there were plenty of those arriving in Nala, including tournament directors Will and Warren.
KABWE COACHING PROGRAM IN NUMBERS
- Number of participating schools/communities: 5 (Children of Promise, Mine Secondary School, Die Hard, Sables, Shitima)
- Number of children coached: 241
- Boys / girl ratio: 74 / 26
- Percentage of children participating in 3 or more sessions: 57%
- Number of participating local coaches: 12
- Number of participating local coaches awarded a BPF coach certificate: 12
A strong structure laid a foundation from which the Pride was able to execute a smooth tournament day with over 200 children taking part in both senior and junior sections. An array of local dignitaries and leaders attended, including G4S Zambia managing director Mabvuto Daka, who was on hand to help further praise our two associations’ partnership, as well as Bhubesi Pride Foundation’s impact on the Kabwe community.
“Bhubesi’s values are the same as ours. This strengthens our relationship; together, we are touching the lives of the young boys and girls in Kabwe. The local community appreciates our presence here.”
Mabvuto Daka, Managing Director, G4S Zambia
Saturday morning saw the Pride on the move once more, this time returning south towards Lusaka, from which we’d head to Livingstone, home of the natural wonder that is Victoria Falls. This will be my final stop returning to the UK, but BPF will continue its work as the Pride moves onwards to Botswana.
If you’d like the chance to follow in Hal’s footsteps and join the Pride, apply here…
More beautiful wildlife photos from South Luangwa