• It’s a Small World – Africa Style

    The expression, “it’s a small world,” is overused. Except in this case, when this phenomenon has made more African magic happen.  Tommy and I have just finished a month volunteering with Play Soccer Zambia.  The first few weeks were typical in the fact that we went to sessions, coached kids, set up coaching education, and even help them run the Global Peace Games along with coordinating with other outside groups like NOWSPAR.  I have included quite a few links to these groups, events, and other blogs so that you can read more about them if you want.  One main part to remember, besides the good that we were able to do with PSZ, is that there is a definite lack of equipment, especially balls.  More on this later…

    But the point of this blog is to show you how small a world it is and because of that positive things can happen.  On Zambian Independence Day weekend we had nothing to do with PSZ so Tommy and I headed down to Livingston to see Victoria Falls.  It was Tommy’s penultimate weekend on the continent (second to last weekend but penultimate was too good a word not to use!) so this was the ideal send-off.  After seeing the Falls we hung out at the hostel and after a beer or two I went down to the Arts Cafe to see a local Zambian band.  There was a set of backpackers, two of whom I had met coming through Lusaka.  Even though they were two good-looking Danish girls they are not really that important to the story.  I got to talking to another guy at their table named Will.  It turns out that he is one of the managers for Alive & Kicking and has met my boss, Nick Gates of Coaches Across Continents.  Alive & Kicking make locally made soccer balls which are the most industrial strength ball I have ever come across. They are the only ball that does not puncture and deflate after a few hours on these harsh fields in Africa.  Anyways we talked for a bit and he was going to be up in Lusaka at my hostel a few days later.  We said we’d catch up then.

    Fast forward to Tuesday morning at the hostel.  Will comes out to breakfast, is leaving for Nairobi and England within the hour, and casually offers 30 soccer balls from their donors.  I whole-heartedly and greedily accepted.  All I need to do is touch base with their country program director and make the arrangements.  Some guy named Chad Conaty.

    I trade texts with Chad, got the balls picked up, donated 1/2 to PSZ and am bringing the other 1/2 down with me to Beyond Sport Integrated in Monze where I will be in November.  All without actually talking to Chad.  So when he offers to drop by our hostel and buy me and Tommy a few beers on Tommy’s penultimate night in Africa we said yes.  (It must be something to do with the word penultimate?)  Anyhow it turns out that Chad and I are from the same hometown of Burke, Virginia and we know dozens of the same people, many of whom might be reading this blog back in VA.  After our initial conversation about mutual friends, I happened to mention I would not be getting to South Luongwe National Park as I mentioned in response to CDR from Northern Virginia in a past blog.  Chad has said this is not acceptable, he used to live up there when he was in the Peace Corps, and he will make the necessary arrangements for me to get up there on the cheap.

    So to sum it up..l. I am in Zambia.  I have met two people who run a great organization in Alive & Kicking.  One is from my hometown.  They donated 30 desperately needed soccer balls to two other great organizations in Play Soccer Zambia and Beyond Sport Integrated.  I know get to visit South Luongwe National Park and see more of Africa, and I have gotten back in touch with some of our mutual friends like the Jerez sisters whom we both know.

    It is safe to say that magic continues to happen in Africa.  That magic happens for a reason.  And that it definitely is a small world.


  1. Susanne Renselaer says: November 4, 2010 at 2:24 pmReply

    Hey Brian! I’ve been enjoying your posts, especially “The Road That Should Not Be Taken.” Glad you survived to write about it!

    Thanks for the card you sent. The cloth image is beautiful. Too nice to get rid of, so I’ve been using it as a bookmark. (As you probably know, reading is very important to me, so that is a singular honor.)

    Hope things continue to go well. I look forward to catching up with you when you return.