HARARE – In a nutshell, what we are trying to do in as far as development is concerned is that we are trying to pick up all the 17 to 22 year-olds that are in schools that actually play rugby.

We want to follow them up, we want to go to their schools, we want to train all the upper sixes to be coaches, to be administrators, referees and obviously medical people in rugby.

If we train them, we want to challenge them and we want to ask them to form teams. If they go out and form teams, all the teams that will have been formed will be registered by the union (Zimbabwe Rugby Union) through our Get Into Rugby Programme. The union will support all those teams by giving them equipment, rugby balls, rugby cones. Those teams will be brought in every now and again to play even in their own respective areas. For example, in Glen View. If we go to Glen View and train upper sixes from Glen View 1 to Glen View 7, we have about four schools. If we trained the upper six there and requested them to start teams, if we find that 10% of the people are involved, they go out and actually create the teams.

We then have a tournament at Glen View 4 where our (ZRU) director of rugby will be there and the kids will then come out in big numbers and we can find kids between eight and 15. We then separate them into different teams, and put them into a game format. We’ll have a little reward at the end and from there, even if they play for six hours under our watch, we’ll be able to encourage them and to be able to get them to start thinking rugby. That will also help us to create teams within the junior schools and the junior school systems there. They won’t have any teams but these new coaches that will have started teams can then be attached to some of the junior schools that are there or even the senior schools that are there, because now they’ll be qualified to coach.

If you actually look at it, 95 percent of all the coaches in Zimbabwe have come through the Rugby Union, they’ve been trained by the Rugby Union through various training courses that were done been for the last 35 years. So those coaches are now graduating and they’re coaching at schools like as Falcon, Peterhouse. All your top schools have coaches that have come through the Rugby Union. So in the same breath, if we went to the high-density areas and we did the same thing and created new coaches, we’re actually creating employment, we are creating work for them and some of the schools that are out there will be forced to then take on these guys as their coaches in their schools.

But not only that, it will also push the guys that are training them, the new coaches, to also train themselves, to also be on top of their game and to also be understanding what it is that rugby brings. And the more they put the effort into their rugby, in coaching, they also put effort into their own training and keeping themselves rugby fit and playing various games. It will allow them to try and encourage the youngsters to come and watch them when they are playing and then generally just opening up a whole new avenue of new players coming in.

A little bit of development was done in Mabvuku and then it died. If you remember in the early 2000s with a team that emerged out of Mabvuku that was very strong, a team that had the likes of Fortune Chipendu. He’s still the face of rugby there.

But there’s a lot of them that actually came through that whole programme. But that whole set-up was allowed to die and I’m saying we need to recreate that whole set-up and get those guys playing in the high density. We need to create leagues in the high density.

We need to create teams that will compete in the high-density at any level. If we can do that, if we can start with two, then four, then six, then eight, we can create new teams and if there’s any talent that is there, we can try and collect that talent. If they are poached, it becomes an important thing at individual level where they are then benefiting from their rugby and they will then come to a top school and really play on the big stage. And if obviously they are then poached away from that big school, for example, a kid comes out of Glen View, is poached by another team, eventually he gets to Selborne Routledge. Then he plays there in grade seven level, then taken by Churchill on a scholarship for one year and then he moves to PE and from PE he is then taken by St John’s. And then at under-14 or under-16 level, he makes it into Craven Week and then he goes to South Africa. He goes there and he gets poached again by St Stithians College.

His life is completely changed simply because the one guy came through to their school and started talking about rugby.

*Losson Mtongwiza is a candidate for the post of Zimbabwe Rugby Union president. The elective ZRU annual general meeting is on this Saturday. This story is a typed verbatim from Mtongwiza in conversation with SportsCast.


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