Pride eyes: Botswana
- Words: Lloyd Jones
- Images: Matea Ilieva
- Edited by: Michael Hendricks
Botswana was a special week for me personally for two reasons: it was my last week of the 3 months I will have spent Bhubesi Pride Foundation in Africa, and secondly, Gaborone was home to my dad and grandparents, back in the 1970’s.
After crossing the Zambia-Botswana border, we drove south towards Nata and arrived at Elephant Sands where we camped alongside a watering hole that was a popular meeting spot for dozens of elephants. Sitting by the fire chatting with the rest of the team while elephants lumbered by just meters away was the perfect way to start our time in Botswana.
Scroll down for more photos of the Pride’s journey from Zambia to Botswana…
After another stop camping in Palapye, we headed down to Gaborone. We met up with team G4S Botswana and were shown to our accommodation for the week. The team was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at The Royal Guesthouse and were told that everybody had their own rooms!
After a day of rest, we were introduced to the schools that we were working with for the week.
Tshwaragano was a school which BPF had worked with in previous years and consisted of 100 children, aged 10-12. For the 2018 expedition, two more schools were introduced, Therisanyo and Solomon Dihutso, both bringing 50 children each.
My school was Solomon Dihutso and I was lucky enough to coach with the venerable Finlay Wilson, (below). The aim of our week was to introduce the game of touch rugby whilst simultaneously instilling the Pride values to the children and trying to showcase both to participate in the tournament at the end of the week. One of the teachers at Solomon Dihutso explained how the project was impacting the children:
“We have selected 50 children who don’t like any of the other sports, and this week we have seen them develop a new love for a sport – rugby. These children would not usually turn up to morning classes and now they are here every day because they know they are going to play rugby afterwards.”
Christopher Daniel, Teacher, Solomon Dihutso
This was hugely rewarding, as rugby can be such a daunting sport to learn from scratch. To see these children pick it up and show that eagerness to get involved was great to see.
Due to the charity’s continued partnership with the Botswana Rugby Union, who supplied each school with a player/coach to help us with translation and coaching, I was fortunate to have David, who plays rugby for the Gaborone Hogs, to assist with our coaching sessions. He told me:
“I have really enjoyed my week helping Bhubesi coach. I have learnt alongside the kids about the values that rugby can bring to the children in Botswana.”
This was great to hear as it shows that we are working with individuals who care about the legacy that Bhubesi Pride Foundation tries to implement.
GABORONE COACHING PROGRAM IN NUMBERS
- Number of participating schools/communities: 3 (Tshwaragano Group 1 & 2, Therisanyo Solomon Dihutso)
- Number of children coached: 200
- Boys / girl ratio: 62 / 38
- Percentage of children participating in 3 or more sessions: 100%
- Number of participating local coaches: 1
- Number of participating local coaches awarded a BPF coach certificate: 1
Our week in Gaborone was helped significantly by the G4S Botswana team who provided life skills lessons focusing on health and safety. They also provided refreshments at the end of every coaching session. As the schools were on different sides of Gaborone, G4S helped to taxi us to one of our participating schools.
Our driver, Legs, was the training officer for the G4S team. He took a huge interest in Bhubesi Pride Foundation and also wanted to show the team more about Botswana and about the city we were coaching in. He took Jay, Finn and me for a guided tour around the Botswana Parliament and House of Chiefs which was fascinating. The next day he took us to Phakalane Hotel and Golf Resort after coaching to watch the sunset.
“It’s fantastic to see both children and teachers take such an interest in the sport of rugby, and it’s a great model to provide skills and values that the kids will use growing up.”
Legs, G4S Botswana
Olivia, supported by Finn, also led the charity’s leadership workshop with employees from G4S Botswana.
On one morning during our coaching week, the team hiked up Kgale Hill to watch the sunrise. When we woke at 5:00am, there were some questions about whether it was actually a good idea. However, once we finished the 30-minute climb and witnessed the sunrise over Gaborone, there was no question that it was one of the most spectacular views that we had seen in Africa.
Concluding a successful week with the Pride in Botswana, we had rugby, music and dancing at our tournament day at Wharic Park. I was immensely happy to go out on such a high note. I wish the rest of the Pride good luck on their onward adventures in Namibia, South Africa, Botswana (again), Zambia and Malawi, through to September.