Children in the Wilderness (CITW) first partnered with ex-professional soccer player, Gordon Gilbert to launch Soccer in the Wilderness in 2013. Gordon has played professionally for the Kaizer Chiefs, Mpumalanga Black Aces and Moroka Swallows; he is also an avid wildlife enthusiast dedicated to making a difference in the lives of underprivileged children. As we all know, soccer is hugely popular worldwide and the game is known to not only promote fitness but also to inspire people to work together as a team. Gordon is passionate about both the sport and environmental issues and has pledged to make a difference through his role as a CITW Ambassador empowering children through education. By combining good old fashioned fun and sport with the added bonus of inspiration and mentorship by a renowned soccer player, CITW aims to encourage children in rural Zimbabwe and Zambia to be leaders for the future.
This year, Gordon graciously took time out from his busy schedule to visit Zimbabwe and Zambia once again, using soccer to promote conservation; by exposing the children to the importance of team work through the game itself and then spending time with the groups mentoring and teaching them about the value of nature and the impact this had on their future, Gordon was able to connect with everyone in a truly unique way.
The programme kicked off in Zambia, where Gordon spent time with four schools including Twabuka, Simoonga, Nalituwe and Holy Cross Primary, as well as a team from the local community of Sinde Village.
Gordon then braved the intense summer heat and cycled across the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe carrying bags filled with donated soccer balls, before being transported to the remote area of Tsholotsho on the border of Hwange National Park, where he would meet with children from rural Zimbabwean Schools. These included Ziga and Kapane Primary School as well as Ngamo Primary & Secondary Schools. Soccer in the Wilderness aims to raise awareness in these remote villages about various conservation issues, including poaching and rhino conservation, motivating and inspiring the locals to get actively involved in the conservation of the wilderness areas they live adjacent to.
Whilst in Zimbabwe, there was an interesting soccer match between Ngamo Primary and Ngamo Secondary which combined both female and male students – during this highly competitive match, it was interesting to watch the students concentrating on the game at hand whilst completely oblivious to a herd of wild elephants literally a few meters away from their soccer pitch. The combination of community and nature in harmony was awe inspiring. CITW are extremely proud to be associated with Gordon Gilbert in this inspiring Soccer Clinic; we will be forever grateful for the role he plays by sharing his soccer skills and passion for conservation as we empower children through education.