The 2015 Heroes Day Soccer Tournament kicked off with a round robin soccer match played by the five primary schools from the Dete cluster consisting of Main Camp, Sir Roy Welensky, St Franics, Chezhou and Mambanje Primary Schools. The primary school’s matches are run by the African Bush Camps Foundation Scholarship students, they are responsible for organized the tournament for the school children, umpire the matches and administer the prize giving. As a part of their scholarship study contract, the high school students learn to give back to their own communities, becoming mentors and role models to the primary students of the school’s they themselves attended.
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 and is now in its 6th year, 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.
The charity match which was introduced in 2014 was again a much anticipated part of the day, the Dete Veteran team consisting of retired Dete Soccer League players being very serious this year, taking on the African Bush Camps Foundation team which was made up of all of those involved with the Foundation, CEO Beks Ndlovu, members of Safari Logistics from Vic Falls, scholarship students from the African Bush Camps Foundation and staff Emmanuel Rabeka and Nomore Chibimidza, Foundation staff Ndodana Masuku, Derick Phiri, Sophia Ndlovu and Andre van der Heever stepping in for his wife Tammy who had the important job of official photographer for the day.
All of the soccer players present, primary school and high school children, visitors and officials made the 10 minute walk to the Dete Old Age Home for a clean up campaign and hand over of groceries which were bought with donations raised at the Jane Bubear Sports Foundation Dete 10k Fun run in May of 2015.
The High School Scholarship students prepared and served lunch to all guests and visiting officials, and then it was time to undertake the serious business of the day. The play off for third and fourth place saw the Shumba Stars victorious over Maganyama by 3 goals to 1. The final began with a procession of the primary school teams accompanying the finalists onto the field. Not only is it our aim to provide the young men of the greater Dete community with positive ways to fill their time spent training and weekend matches, they also give back to their own communities and teach and mentor the primary school teams, most of which are in 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 and this was a very moving moment, seeing the pride in the eyes of the children.
After 90 minutes of phenomenal soccer, the Mabale Foxes and ZRP Buffalo’s battled it out to a 1 all draw at the close of the match. A very tense penalty shoot out saw the Mabale Foxes being defeated making the ZRP Buffalo’s the 2015 Heroes Cup Champion’s.
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 from Hwange 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 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, we thank you!