A stunned silence resounded through the stadium as the shock registered that defending champions and firm favorites, Iwisa Sparrows were beaten, the surprise by the players and fans of Forestry Wildcats taking a few seconds to sink in that they had actually won the match and were the new 2014 champions of the African Bush Camps Foundation Heroes Tournament.
Through Sports such as soccer, the African Bush Camps Foundation provides support to the communities surrounding Hwange National Park, partnering with them to achieve sustainable development, creating opportunities for them to realize their full potential, assisting them in starting and running sustainable and successful projects and holding events in the community which bring together all 14 villages in the area.
The Heroes Day Soccer Tournament is an annual event, supporting the Dete Soccer League, a ZIFA (Zimbabwe Football Association) registered soccer league that is made up of 18 clubs representing the 14 villages surrounding Hwange National Park. It is held in August each year celebrating the Zimbabwean public holiday of National Heroes Day.
As per the previous years, the Primary School’s are also involved and this year the five schools which make up the Dete cluster played a round robin tournament, kicking off proceedings for the day.
The older youth and men from the Dete soccer league mentor the primary school teams, who often are very remote communities and often have very little chance to participate in the broader society. It motivates the young men in the teams to be role models and mentors to the school children. The primary school’s matches are run by the African Bush Camps Foundation
Scholarship students who are in the upper grades, they organized the tournament for the school children, umpired the matches and made sure the primary school’s prizes and lunch was handed out to all. As a part of their study contract, the students learn to mentor those younger than them and also get involved in our community events, giving back to their own communities and also being inspirational role models for the primary school students.
As a part of the prizes for the children’s matches, we received a very generous donation from ORAP Zimbabwe of 60 soccer balls which each team went away with happily. Out of the 5 cluster schools, two school’s also received soccer uniforms as they previously had none. Chezhou Primary School received brand new uniforms and Terra Vista, a German travel agent sponsored the uniforms for both the Mambanje Men’s and primary school teams.
This year, we introduced a charity match between a Dete Veteran team consisting of retired Dete Soccer League players and the African Bush Camps Foundation team which was made up of head office staff, Simba Mariga and Adam Maini, CEO Beks Ndlovu, scholarship students from the African Bush Camps Foundation and staff Emmanuel Rabeka, Nomore Chibimidza, Terrence Sibanda, Ndodana Masuku, Derick Phiri, Sophia Ndlovu, Vukani Project Member Brighton Sibanda and Dominic Nyathi brought his colleagues from Painted Dog Conservation.
After the High School Scholarships students had made and served lunch for all attending officials and guests, the final was underway drawing big crowds as it is the home ground for the Iwisa Sparrows, the defending champions. No one expected the outcome of the Forestry Wildcats winning 2 -1 and it is always refreshing to see a new victor in this closely fought league. Through the very generous donation of the Jane Bubear Sports Foundation who also host the annual Dete 10k Fun Run each April, all of the 288 players in the league received a T-shirt and each team received new soccer balls. The top 8 teams received new soccer boots and the top 4 teams each received new soccer uniforms and shared US$1,000 of prize money, given in the form of fuel vouchers as the large distances they need to travel to matches being their greatest expense.
The day was closed by the ZIFA district chairman and local Councilor from Dete and everyone left in high spirits after yet another successful year of a community coming together to enjoy and celebrate a common cause. Our heartfelt thanks goes out to all who made this wonderful day and entire tournament possible, to the teachers of the schools for bringing the students together, to all of our high school scholarship students for showing such initiative, to the Mambanbje Parents who ran the tuck shop, to our teachers Derick Phiri and Ndodana Masuku for organizing everything behind the scenes, to Dominic Nyathi, his Painted Dog Conservation team and the Dete Soccer League for making it all possible, to Terra vista for the stunning uniforms, Mambanje promise to make you proud!
To Sable Sands for so generously accommodating us, to the Jane Bubear Sports Foundation for believing in the community of Dete and that sport can bring people together to create a better future, your generosity is felt and appreciated wide and far and to all of the players who walk the long miles to practice, participate and make the league possible, thank you!
View The Full Photo Album