As we hit the one week mark on Field Academy 2016, the Ross students in Zimbabwe are having an incredible time making connections with people and seeing the impact that sports can have on communities. We have been working hand in hand with our friends at Hoops4Hope to be a part of their programming, watching and participating in their after school clinics for kids in the Harare area. Today, we spent time in the Dzivarasekwa (DZ) neighborhood, where unfortunately our plans were met by a sudden rainstorm. As we all headed over to a covered bleacher area of a soccer field, Ross students and Hoops4Hope staff jumped out onto the field together and played a quick game of soccer for the crowd. The impact was immediately felt as the children of DZ cheered loudly for both sides. The impact goes beyond just making people feel good because it was in that moment there was a community and bond was formed between Ross School and these children. We’ve been experiencing moments like this the entire trip (as you will read twice below), where sports have seemingly taken over and has united people, young and old(er), Ross students and Zimbabwean children, and has ultimately taught us that there is significant power in these “games” that bring us all a little bit closer. It has been hard not to smile while watching Ross students interact with these children, as they have been incredible at opening their hearts and welcoming new people into their lives every day.
Before coming to Zimbabwe, I had the chance to chat with many Zimbabwean people on Whatsapp. We set up a large group chat with hundreds of people in it to talk about anything and everything. Over the past few days, I’ve met a lot of the people that I had been talking to on Whatsapp. People like Tida, Munahse, and Charles who all play basketball. Talking to them and just learning about what their lives are like has been amazing for me. Tida has especially become a close friend of mine as we had been talking for months before the trip.
Tida is a very good player even though he will never say so himself. He plays for his school basketball team and a club team called the Raiders as well as the Zimbabwe under 20 national team. We sit with each other on the bus every day and just talk. Today he told me “I like making friends but I like even more when I make a brother.” After hearing that I know we are going to be friends for a long time.
Munashe plays on the club team with Tida. He’s not that tall, about my height, but he has got very long arms. He tells me he can dunk and I can’t wait to see it. I had also talked to him a little bit before we left for the trip. I just met him today but I’m looking forward to learning more about him.
Charles is one of the younger players as he is only 15. He plays on the Zimbabwe under 17 national team as well as the school team with Tida. He played in a game with us today and he’s got a nice shot. He’s got a lot of potential to be a really good player.
Ross School vs Zimbabwe. That was the expected matchup for today’s game. But after spending a few days together we decided that we are all too close to divide us that simply. The feeling of Ubuntu is already running thick through our blood. Thus, we mixed the teams up and played one of the most entertaining and competitive games the players have ever been a part of.
It was a high scoring game with the lead going back and forth throughout. Fate had decided that a regulation game was not enough and we found ourselves playing in double overtime. Players were drenched in sweat and exhausted left and right. There were 5 seconds left on the clock with one team up by 2. As the team with the lead’s free throw rimmed out, Maynard grabbed the rebound and gave a quick outlet to Chris who had 2 seconds remaining. He took two dribbles, picked the ball up from five feet behind half court, and with two defenders in the air with him…swoosh! The crowd went wild and the players (from both teams) rushed the court in celebration. It was a perfect ending to an incredible game.
This much-anticipated matchup between Ross and Zimbabwe became a great display of Ubuntu and a demonstration of how sport can unite people from all over. Looking forward to more memorable moments…