The Harare basketball scene was abuzz this past weekend as an American collegiate basketball team visited and got involved in a number of activities including 4 friendly matches. Wheaton College, a Division III men’s basketball team from Illinois that made it all the way deep into Division III Championship play is just concluding a whirlwind trip in Zimbabwe.
After a stop through Bulawayo en route to Victoria Falls, the team has just wrapped up a 10-day sports ministry trip organized in conjunction with Sports Ambassadors and Athletes in Action. The team hit the ground running engaging in a number of clinics as soon as they arrived, including visits at locations such as Churchill Boys High School, Girls High School, Gateway, Mabvuku community, Christian league, and Heritage.
Although Wheaton College visited with a men’s team, substantial time was spent including and catering to camps that were focused on female athletes, including a visit to Peterhouse girls where over 80 girls attended, a Saturday morning camp at Girls High School which was open to all but registered over a 90% turnout of girls amongst over 100 athletes who turned out.
Coach Schauer of the Thunder also spent some time working with the Zimbabwe Women’s National team and shared that he and the team were having a memorable and exciting trip thus far. He hailed the natural athleticism of Zimbabwean athletes and commended the respectful and attentive demeanor of the athletes of all ages that they had worked with. He added that working with athletes with positive attitudes and a willingness to learn is a valuable part of basketball development. He added that basketball in Zimbabwe would improve if athletes had increased access to facilities and basketballs.
Outside of basketball clinics with young athletes, the team played against local teams that gave basketball fans near and far something to look forward to. In a series of well attended and thoroughly entertaining games, the Wheaton “Thunder” matched up against Varsity Leopards Academy, Harare City Hornets, Zimbabwe Men’s National Team Select (live-streamed) as well as Foxes. The Wheaton coaching staff were also able to spend valuable time exchanging ideas with coaches of both the men’s national team Mr. Addison Chiware and the women’s national team coach Mr. Mxolisi Ndlovu.
The delegation also traveled to Bulawayo where they hosted additional camps and competed in a friendly game against a Bulawayo select side that brought out the home crowd in their numbers. Xavier Bwanya commented on behalf of Athletes in Action and the L.O.C that, “this trip has shown the impact that we can have on the basketball community in terms of growth as well as how we can do things in the future.” He added that the delegation spoke positively about Zimbabwe and that we had left a good impression on them that may lead to future visits of collegiate teams, “We are hoping to continue to build our relationship with the team, the coaches and the school.”
You can follow Wheaton’s account of their Zimbabwe visit on https://athletics.wheaton.edu/news/2019/5/13/mens-basketball-travels-to-zimbabwe-for-a-10-day-sports-ministry-trip.aspx