01 Aug 2017

Brothers donate football boots to Zimbabwean schoolchildren

On the June 28, my brother Oscar Tentij (7/LE) and I went to Sizinda Secondary School, a small village school on the outskirts of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to donate football boots that we had collected from donations (through a charity called ‘it starts with soccer’) at Newington and at local clubs amassing to more than 50 pairs.

Zimbabwe is a very poor country as a result of an extreme level of corruption as well as mismanagement of the country’s resources and schools. Sizanda isn’t a city school nor is it government-funded meaning that when Sizanda play the better funded city schools in the tournaments – organised by ‘it starts with soccer’ – they are intimidated by the fact they have to play barefoot against teams with studs.

All is not doom and gloom, however. Zimbabwe spends the world’s highest percentage of overall budget on education, a commitment recognised by UNESCO as having a positive impact on children there.

When we arrived at our hotel in Victoria Falls, we met Nyika, the organiser of the charity and talked on the rooftop with the mist of the falls floating over the trees. He explained the importance of the charity and how it relates to the education of the students. It does this by creating a common ground in which the children can relate to (i.e. you need to practice dribbling, just like you need to practice to read).

We then gave the boots to the Sizanda football team with the boots ordered by size. We had enough to give the entire team boots and the boots that were left over were given to Nyika to be given to the other local clubs. After this, of course, we had a game of football on the sand pitch just outside the school.

”We thank you a lot for giving us the boots. We can use (the boots) often in school and we can leave the boots for the next generation that are coming through the school. We thank you a lot” said Perfect Simbanda.

With a Newington representative on each side (both of whom were tremendously outclassed by the local children) the score ended up at 1-1 (Goal scorers were Experience Muchimba and Perfect Simbanda) with not even the penalties able to separate the two teams.

You may be wondering why give these boys boots, why not give them food and money. Doug Brown, the founder of ‘it starts with soccer’ told me a story after we bumped into him while visiting the Falls. “I met a girl… living in a tiny house and who wakes up at 5 o’clock every morning and walks several hours to school. When she gets back home, its dark and she needs to use a torch to study, and she can only do that when batteries are available. Soccer is her one escape”.

Finn Tentij (10/LE)


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