Dreams Kindled at NexGen Summer Camp

August 30, 2022

Fun, friendship and exploration are the main ingredients for the best summer camp possible. Sprinkle in Olympians, tech gurus, sports coaches and former professional athletes and you would have an inkling of the kind of vibe that prevailed at Eaglesvale School over the past few days. Oh! Of course there were the VIPs of the camp, that’s the young boys and girls that participated the three day NexGen Camp. This exciting combination of interactive sports and games, life as well as entrepreneurial skills, was curated by Let Girls Read, Run, Grow (LGRRG). The USA based organisation aims to support the development of African adolescents through exposure to education, athletics and entrepreneurship.

Youth development champion, Aces Youth Soccer Academy (AYSA) was one of the implementing partners which also included Miracle Missions, Eaglesvale School, Global Air Drone Academy, Rank Wholesalers and Maxi Pro Fitness. Robust reputations aside, what made this particular summer special was the young boys and girls whose beaming smiles reflected the spark that had been ignited in their spirits. Every single one of them came from some of the most deprived backgrounds and on each of the three days that the camp was run the participating +/- 50 children were drawn from different marginalized communities.

Courtney Rundofa, a volunteer with the Life and Hope for Kids programme run by Miracle Missions, said that due to sheer numbers shortlisting participants had been a bit of a challenge.

They had however eventually selected children already interested in Science and sports who also happened to be the most underexposed.

For them, each moment at Camp NexGen was a mind blowing revelation of the endless possibilities life offers, even to those who enter the world at a major handicap.

David Muzhingi, the AYSA Under 17 Coach, was part of the coaches who took the boys and girls through a number of physical drills and exercises.

He was pleasantly surprised to see a number of young people standing out from their peers and showing potential to take their sporting abilities to higher levels.

 “There was quite a bit of talent on display and all stakeholders need to come on board to identify and develop these young people at these early stages,” Coach David said.

Francis “Gazza” Jeymani, retired pro footballer and now a coach at AYSA, could barely hide his enthusiasm, as straight after one of the friendly games, he dashed onto the pitch to get the details of a boy who’d stood out due to his deft touches.

“He [11 year old Denzel Chawareru] definitely has something talent wise and my colleagues picked it up the moment we saw him doing ball control drills,” he said.

Dion Mazivire, an Assistant Coach for the AYSA Under 17s, was grateful for the seeds of a healthy self-image that were planted in the boys and girls minds.

            “Apart from teaching these boys and girls the basics of soccer, we shared with them how talent is God given to all human beings, rich or poor.

“Regardless of where you are born, you have talents and if you nurture them so that you can change your situation and that of your family,” said Coach Dion.

Idara Otu, the Founder and Board Chair of LGRRG, said that in addition to exposing vulnerable and underserved children to sports, Camp NexGen also helped participants develop an entrepreneurial mind set.

“The Camp seeks to develop within 11 to 15 year olds a positive work ethic and problem solving skills,” she said.

Idara, an Olympian sprinter who competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics, said that through partners Global Air Drone Academy, the young boys and girls would actually build a drone from components, create a business plan and even be asked to name their project company.

These activities would all be hands-on, enabling participants not only to dream, but to take formative steps towards making these dreams a reality.

Fifteen year old twins Leon and Lean Musaidzi were all smiles as they shared some of their favourite highlights from the camp.

“There were so many amazing people and we had so much fun!

“At school we don’t get to do such activities and at home we are usually indoors so playing with other children really refreshed us,” a beaming Leon said.

“I loved this place and the activities as it was actually my first time playing soccer,” Lean chimed in.

Interestingly, this exposure of soccer to girls is what AYSA girl’s coach Bridget Chandamale was ecstatic about.

“I saw a couple of girls able to execute basic soccer skills like holding and passing, so with consistent training they can excel at even higher levels,” she said.