Sunday, 2 October 2011

An African Connection - Chinamhora Primary School, Zimbabwe

Our recent appearance at the Wimbledon Common Stables Open Day in September had more of an outcome than just the inaugural Mascot Race!

Earlier in the day our stall and Community Football Scheme inflatable had attracted the interest of Manda Bell, a teacher at St Teresa’s RC Primary School in Merton. Manda stopped by for a chat and to tell us of a recent donation the school had received from AFC Wimbledon’s very own Dennis Lowndes, stalwart of the ladies teams and half time pitch-prodder at Kingsmeadow.
Manda Bell and the Head Teacher at Chinamhora
Over the last couple of years St Teresa’s had formed a bond with Chinamhora School in Zimbabwe and Manda had been fortunate enough to be able to go out on a visit earlier this year. 

Hoping to be able to provide a suitable gift to her hosts, Manda had asked Dennis about the possibilities of providing some ex-AFC Wimbledon kit for the pupils and Dennis had been able to provide two sets, the blue home and red third kit, for Manda to take out with her. They had proved a great success and Manda was keen to express her thanks to Dennis and the ladies teams for their generous donation and to ask me to send him her best wishes.

As sometimes happens, things started to roll from that point on. First of all we thought it would be really nice to publish a picture in the programme, so Manda kindly sent us some shots of the boys proudly wearing their AFC Wimbledon strips.  Then we heard that Mr Tendai Nygato, the deputy Head Teacher of Chinamhora School, would be over on a reciprocal visit for about ten days later in the month. A quick check on the calendar and we could see that he would be here for the Gillingham game and that was too good an opportunity to miss. We invited both Mr Nygato and Ms Bell to join us at the stadium to see AFC Wimbledon in action and to meet both Haydon the Womble and Dennis Lownes on the pitch at half time. 

Mr Nygato would be returning to Zimbabwe shortly after the match and we hoped that he would be able to explain to his pupils that although AFC Wimbledon might not be as big as Manchester United, we were at least as welcoming and that although wombles might not be a common sight in East Africa, they are definitely a species worth getting to know!
Deputy Headteacher Mr Tendai Nygato takes centre stage
 As it turned out Dennis Lowndes was unable to attend the Gillingham match, so the Vice Chair of the Ladies teams, Fawwad Uddin, stood in for him and was pleased to present Mr Nygato with a commemorative pennant  at half time. The pitch presentation was captured on film and will be included in a later post on the St Teresa's Poetry Competition. The crowd gave Mr Nygato its customary warm welcome and I think it's fair to say that he had a memorable afternoon!

Just one thing though...  you might notice in the photographs that Dennis was a bit short on the shorts side - especially with regard to the red kit. If you do have any items of kit, either blue or red,  that your children have grown out of we would be more than happy to arrange for St Teresa's to pass them on to the pupils at Chinamhora who would certainly put them to good use!

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