Matsetso Sports to Conservation

It began with six footballs, a dozen poor kids and a coach…

In 2012 Chimanimani resident Jane High received a letter asking for help from some youngsters who had tried to start their own football team. These kids lived in a traditional village known as Matsetso, the poorest neighbourhood of Chimanimani town. Matsetso has a high proportion of disadvantaged kids and HIV orphans who live on the edges of the Chimanimani golf course. Child-headed households and HIV orphans living with their grandmothers are not unusual. Many fathers are absent, some having abandoned their children or living elsewhere trying to find work. Several mothers are dead: women suffered the worst from the HIV pandemic.

Jane is a physical education teacher and believes she can use golf and football to bring these kids together, not just to develop their talents to the max but to give them an opportunity to make a valuable contribution to their communities.They have a youth centre with library and computers where they hold a weekly power point presentation on issues which affect them, particularly conservation. Jane believes sport teaches many valuable life lessons to children but her larger vision is that this sports programme be used to teach them how valuable and how vulnerable their natural heritage in Chimanimani really is. With help from local tourism businesses and tourists, children who were previously unable to attend school receive school uniforms, supplementary feeding and their school fees are paid. The football programme which started in 2012 now attracts more than sixty participants; four year olds to twenty five year olds go out and play. But it is not just about sport. The idea is to bring kids together to improve their health, their attitude and their understanding of how a healthy environment affects their future. Hence the name:  Sport to Conservation (S2C).