Thursday, January 30, 2014

Zimbabwe's Mbare Rugby Academy

Special Report by Benedict Chanakira

When you hear people mention Mbare, a suburb of Harare in Zimbabwe, images of poverty, crime and filth often come to mind.  There is not many good things to say about the area, but amongst the rough lies several gems: its famous market, Zimbabwe’s biggest and most successful soccer team, Dynamos; and the Mbare Rugby Academy.

Mbare Rugby Academy (Credit:
In 2007 Milton Rankeni and Victor Pekani decided to develop the game with the help of Zimbabwe Rugby Union. With little to no funds they have managed to produce a handful of players for the Zimbabwe under 13, under16, under 18 and 7′s teams. The coaches that assist Victor and Milton are all volunteers and all hold the same vision and dream: to grow the game in Zimbabwe, bring out the best in under-priviledged kids who are all required to be in school and be studying.   

I decided to visit the team at the Harare Sports Club for one of their scheduled training sessions held on Sundays, which typically has in excess of 150 players in attendance. The ratio of girls to boys is 30 -70.  The five coaches are split between the three groups of fourty-five players who run drills with the players who range in age from five to twenty one.   I was particularly surprised not only at the high skill levels, which was rather impressive, but also the size of the players. All quite small, and hardly a difference between the backs and the forwards.   Size aside, the adcademy has had some great sucesses with wins over St Georges under 16s,  development of several National age-group side players, and a successful showing at the Middelburg 7s tournament.

With a tour to South Africa later in the year, the future sucess of the academy looks bright.

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