The sky was clear. Only a few clouds spread across the Harare western skyline like cotton pickings fallen on the roadside. There was zero to none chances of rainfall, perfect weather for outdoor sporting. It was a Saturday, the 3rd of September, 2016 edition of the Non-Governmental Organizations Games. These games are done annually and AAZ has been participating since 2013.
International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) and local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) get together and participate in the games, with the proceeds going towards an identified charitable cause. It is a fundraising event, providing a platform for organizations to network, share ideas and even look for avenues to work together on projects and proposals. For AAZ, it was a teambuilding event supported by the HROD department. Participation of staff together improves work relations and communication back at work, leading to better understanding of instructions and ultimately leading to improved results and deliverables.
An organization volunteers each year to be the coordinator of that year’s games and a sports coordinator/focal person is selected from each organization to help with the logistics. As a volunteer in the HROD, I was selected to represent AAZ hence the obsession with the weather on that particular day.
The 2016 games were hosted at Churchill Boys High, in Eastlea Harare, by SOS Children’s Villages Zimbabwe. The theme was ‘Feel like a kid again! The proceeds were to be donated to their children’s homes. For the organizers, the theme meant a day for the adults to let loose and run wild and carefree like children. For AAZ the event went hand in glove with its Child sponsorship programmes and provided a chance for the organization to raise funds for initiatives just like its own. For me it was fun time!
Participants were competed in various sporting disciplines such as soccer, volleyball, basketball, tennis, darts, athletics and tug of war. About 16 organizations registered for participation. The warm up session for the participants included egg and sack races. AAZ was represented in the sack race by Paddington Makovere, our very own Finance Officer. I could see that he meant business by the exuberance he displayed as he did his leg and back stretches. Participants were called to their marks and the gun went off, and so did the participants. Off the ground, they went! There were cheers and laughter from all corners as the racers fumbled in their sacks and tried all tricks in the books to out run each other. Our Paddington was huffing and puffing, putting in all he had and finished at a decent fifth position out of about 10 competitors.
Next up was tennis. AAZ was represented by Sermon Mazheve our former Finance Volunteer and Tsaurai Kambunda our Program Officer. Sermon was darting across the court with expert agility that left me wondering if he is in the correct profession. Tsaurai, on the other court, was holding the racket like a fly swatter and played his shots with such ferocity that his opponents could but only rush for cover. Both stars won their respective games against their opponents although they had to pull out of the remaining matches so that they could support the soccer team.
Soccer headlined the activities of the day. The AAZ team had hardly trained but the players were confident of pulling off a Houdini act and proceeded to the next round. Gracious Madyira, our People for Change Coordinator, Administration and Logistics Officer, lead the supporters in song and dance. Xanthe Chikarara, our HR Volunteer, lead the medical team, attending to all team injuries in a Florence Nightingale style, and also ensuring the team and supporters (staff, families and friends) were well hydrated. The game kicked off and the players ran to and fro jostling for the ball, trying to nestle it in the opponent’s nets. Our soccer team drew two games and lost one and because we only had two points from our three games, we failed to proceed to the next round. However, we managed to proceed to our shade where a hot meal and refreshingly cool drinks and juices were awaiting us. Jokes and laughter filled the AAZ camp as people recounted the day’s events munching through lunch. I wonder what our winning odds were if the games had an eating competition.
The last act of the day was live music performance by the urban groove singer Alexio Kawara. He serenaded the exhilarated crowds as he belted out tune after tune of his hit songs. The hosts thanked all the participants for their contributions which were to be donated to the children’s homes. The games were then officially closed and as the huge crowds and vehicles wormed their way out of Churchill High, I was contemplating that this indeed had been a day well spent for everyone present. We need to take some time from our busy schedules and just let loose like kids. The body and mind need rest to work more effectively and efficiently. Also the exercises and activities raised awareness on the importance of keeping fit to reduce coronary, diabetes and high blood pressure and chronic illness that have become some of the leading causes of deaths. For AAZ, there was display of teamwork and interactions between staff of different positions on the organogram. Lastly, the most important of all is the contributions raised towards helping the children from participation registration fees. Blessed is the hand that gives! So until the 2017 games, au revoir!