Diverse Coaches in Harare
July 2nd 2014. CAC 2nd year volunteer Charlie Crawford blogs from Harare, Zimbabwe.
In Zimbabwe’s capitol of Harare I found myself getting ready for my 3rd week of working for Coaches Across Continents this summer. Every program is different, but some frustrations with last week’s attendance had me holding my breath as we stepped onto Queen Elizabeth School’s field. I didn’t need to hold it long. Right off the bat we had a majority of participants sitting in the stands waiting for us to get started. Because so many were there so early we went around to informally introduce everyone. Among the participants were nutrition teachers, football, swimming, volleyball and netball coaches, prison guards, sports commissioners and a dozen others, all eager to begin. Couldn’t hand-pick a better crew.
The week progressed as I’ve learned a program is meant to. By the end of each session participants and coaches alike were exhausted. Often a number of them would approach one of us after and describe how the games or a slight variation that they learned that day were just the sort that they had been looking to implement through their own sport in their own community.
Following a full day of running around, Markus, Julie, Layla and I would walk into the city with a few members of Bulldogs to spend $2 for a healthy serving of Sadza and Fish/Chicken (or cow stomach which I mistook for slightly furry fish). On one of these walks through the city we came out of the ice cream shop we had been indulging in as sirens blared and three police motorcycles were followed by 2 large black SUVs, a black limo with tinted windows, and two military convoys bristling with soldiers with leveled weapons scanning the crowd. It looked like there was a government convoy passing!
After a refreshingly fulfilling 4 days of games it was time for the Child Right’s discussion (only sit-down-talk part of our curriculum). Ill admit to being a little nervous guiding it myself for the first time but I could not have asked for a better group of coaches and teachers. The more universal points on general abuse were engaged in thoughtfully and powerfully. More interesting though, for me at least, was the lengthy detour the group took to discuss the reality of and communal approach to homosexuality. In a country whose constitution condemns it as a criminal act, creating a space where all manners and perspectives could be safely expressed and listened to was probably the most educational part of my two summers working with CAC.
Later that night, after Germany beat the USA 1-0 (you got lucky Markus, I Believe Russia 2018), the leaders of Bulldogs took us out to enjoy a night of dancing and food. Fortunately for those of us with two left feet, the dance floor was literally empty except for the DJs, which encouraged us to make quality fools of ourselves and even attracted a 24 cow marriage proposal for one in our party.
It doesn’t get much better than ending a week of work with responsive coaches but Markus managed to top it off in a way only he could. As we left Queen Elizabeth’s field for the last time, a group of teenage female students fresh from their classes drew our attention when their informal singing was interrupted by a fit of giggles and whispers directed at Markus. Delighted by his fresh popularity, Markus approached and politely asked for another song. Bulldogs leaders, participants, Layla, Julie, and I could only watch as Makrus and his pony tail bobbed back and forth to a beautiful rendition of John Legend’s All of Me. It was a revitalizing week and I can’t wait to get back at it in northern Zambia!