As I sit down to pen down this reflection, my heart swells with gratitude for the incredible experience we had with the Coaches Across Continent Team. Their Purposeful Play program, a first of its kind in Zimbabwe, has been nothing short of a blessing for us at ZimConserve.
On the evening of September 16, 2023, a warm Saturday, we welcomed Coach Elvis from Coaches Across Continents at the RoadPort Terminal of Harare. He took the following day to prepare and acclimatise, ensuring he was ready for what lay ahead.
Monday, the 18th, found us at the Unit L grounds, with two eager teams of boys and girls. Coach Elvis, with his infectious enthusiasm, began with the Circle of Friends concept, skillfully leading the way. The Mingle-Mingle interaction game followed, and a pause was graciously granted for Marta Da Silva’s skills session—a session inspired by the legendary Brazilian soccer ace herself.
A spirited match between the girls and boys players ensued, before the Tomato dance moves were introduced, infusing the day with energy. We broke for lunch at 1400 hours and reconvened at 1500 hours for Coach Elvis’s theory lessons in our church room. His message was clear: purposeful sports can be a powerful tool for driving social change. Every nod in agreement echoed the resonance of his words. He concluded the day’s classes memorably at 1600 hours.
The next morning, we gathered at Seke 3 High School, and Coach Elvis was a force to be reckoned with. His captivating sessions included familiar games like Circle of Friends, Mingle-Mingle, Tomato, and a new addition—Ronaldo skills. Boys and girls alike left asking for more. The sports leaders present at the school couldn’t contain their excitement, showering compliments on Mr. Nshimba’s coaching prowess during the theory session.
Wednesday brought us to Seke 13 Primary School, where the children, both girls and boys, were left enthralled by Elvis’s seemingly inexhaustible repertoire of games. Each session unveiled new games, in addition to the beloved classics. And as always, a lively discussion followed every practical field session.
Thursday led us to Seke 6 High School, conveniently located within walking distance from our offices. Throughout the program, we made sure that gender parity took center stage. The resounding chorus of “Will you be with us again tomorrow?” became a delightful refrain, met with our sincere promise to return in the not-so-distant future.
On Friday, we embarked on an 80 km journey to Altrina Farm, home to the proudly sponsored Altrina Football Club. While the ladies were unfortunately short on the necessary gear for a football match against their male counterparts, we took the opportunity to inform them of an impending shipment of the much-needed apparel.
Coach Elvis, never one to be outdone, deftly adapted and involved the ladies in games compatible with the available equipment. As the day drew to a close, we left for the city around 1700 hours, hearts full and spirits lifted. Five days with Coach Elvis felt like a whirlwind of joy. Could it be aptly summed up as a “September to Remember”? Even the coach himself expressed interest in returning to Zimbabwe in the future. On Saturday the 23rd, we bid him a fond farewell as he embarked on his journey to the DRC via Zambia.
In retrospect, each day of the 5-day program followed a similar sequence, with different games and dances adding their unique touch. What stood out most was Coach Elvis’s remarkable ability to captivate his audience, effortlessly inspiring them to dance and sing to his tune, all the while clamoring for more of his time. The Purposeful Play program was nothing short of a priceless blessing for us at Zimconserve. It brought about a transformation that will resonate within our organization, local schools, and communities for a long time to come.