Pride eyes: Botswana
The next stop on the Pride’s journey on their Southern Africa Rugby Explorer was Botswana, a country with abundant wildlife.
Our first coaching week took place in Selebi-Phikwe, an old mining town in eastern Botswana, where we coached children from 5 different local schools in order to prepare them for a touch rugby tournament at the end of the week. The children were all aged between 10 and 14, and some had never played rugby before.
“Children and teachers who made first contact with rugby really enjoyed the festival and returning players were given a reason to come back for more.
The tournament was in fact considered so beneficial that they will be staging another similar one in order to build on the momentum created by Bhubesi Pride Foundation.”
Tosca Segaise, Botswana Rugby Union
The tournament day was a fantastic success and everyone involved had enormous amounts of fun. We were greatly aided by Tevin, an enthusiastic local G4S Botswana employee, who ensured the children were well looked after.
As well as coaching the local children through the week, the Pride ran coach education sessions for aspiring coaches, all of which were gratefully received. Tosca has informed the Pride that the coaches continue to develop their planning and delivery skills, carrying their coaching diaries with them wherever they go!
On top of these sessions, Pride members were also given the opportunity to work with the Selebi-Phikwe U19 boys’ and girls’ teams. This was a terrific opportunity to coach rugby at a higher level than we had been so far and both the teams and Pride Members thoroughly enjoyed the sessions. The boys’ team went on to concede only 8 points in their next 3 matches and the girls’ team played 5 more games and astonishingly conceded only 5 points, meaning that both teams went on to be 2018 U19 National Champions!
“The skills sessions run by the Pride for these teams raised their levels both in terms of confidence and performance.”
Tosca Segaise, Botswana Rugby Union
Off the pitch, we were fortunate enough to be invited to a school assembly at Kopano School, where Ed and Amy had spent the week coaching, which the Pride coaches appreciated enormously. The assembly consisted of lots of singing and dancing, some of which has been adopted by the Pride for singing in Nala (our minibus) as well!
The next destination on our journey through Africa was the Khama Rhino Sanctuary near Serowe for a much-needed break on the way to Maun. We stayed within the boundaries of a National Park, where leopards and hyenas roamed at night and we were even given the chance to go on a night-time game drive through the park in the hopes of spotting African wildlife many of us would not have seen before.
“We were incredibly lucky to see rhino and giraffe; it was certainly a unique and unforgettable experience. I had never seen any of those animals in the wild before and being so close to the animals was breathtaking.”
Max Verweij, 2018 Pride Member
After this well-deserved break, we headed to Maun for our next coaching program. After a slow start, which involved our Project Manager, Sofia Domingos, having to promote our program to new schools, we were able to connect children to the sport.
Our children numbers more than doubled from day one to day 3. Rather than preparing to run a tournament, we decided to run a festival – an event we sometimes run in areas where the game is still relatively new. This involved games of rugby rounders, rugby netball and touch rugby for teams to compete against each other. Trophies were awarded to the children that demonstrated the Pride Values most clearly and this was followed up by a delicious braai provided by G4S Botswana – thank you to Wame and her team!
Reluctantly, the Pride also said goodbye to Brendan Scott this week, a valued Pride member for the last 8 weeks, who coached in Namibia, South Africa, and Botswana.
“I’m really sad to say goodbye to that chapter of my life, and I’m totally full of pride and gratitude for what I was able to experience with Bhubesi.”
Brendan Scott, 2018 Pride Member
After another busy week, we were incredibly lucky to have the chance to experience more of Africa’s wildlife through a variety of activities. On the Saturday we went on a boat safari, on which we saw a herd of around 40 elephants, something our guide said he had never seen before – in 18 years of guiding.
On the Sunday we went to Royal Tree Lodge for a horse riding safari, on which we were within metres of animals such as giraffe and zebra, which was equally exhilarating and awe-inspiring. Finally, we stopped at Elephant Sands near Nata for a night on our way to Zambia, where we watched in wonderment as numerous elephants came walking right through our camp to drink at the water hole.
All in all, our two weeks in Botswana provided an incredible opportunity for us to engage with two small communities, imparting our rugby knowledge to them and in turn receiving insight and a warm welcome into their lives – plus we saw the awesome wildlife and environments they are surrounded by.