Pro Series Zimbabwe opened its doors in August for a week of fantastic indoor hockey, historic international indoor hockey and of course pinch yourself moments of magic. It was truly mind blowing and something that probably still hasn’t registered the true magnificence of what we witnessed in Harare. I’ll do my best to describe it to you in this write up.
It’s hard not to get sucked into the negativity that is communicated about Zimbabwe in the media and with the elections taking place just before I was filled with a degree of uncertainty. I was wrong. Inside a country riddled with pessimistic stories are people filled with optimistic hope. It was sensational to listen to people from the country and how they were able to identify positives in most things. It’s a hallmark of what made Zimbabwe a great country and what will help it to continue to develop.
Now when you think indoor hockey you think about a hall, a building and playing inside. The reality was something that few would have thought of beforehand, but many will think of afterwards. On the middle of a school field at the Hellenic Academy, a marquee tent was built over a tennis court, which was covered by Belgotex flooring. With a few grandstands, sound and lights (not easy to obtain in Harare) the venue for the first ever Indoor hockey test match to take place in Zimbabwe was ready.
If it has not been clear that indoor hockey is the way to build the sport across developing nations, it was obvious after the structure was ready. At a fraction of the cost of an Astro, indoor hockey offers a more affordable opportunity for children to learn and develop their skills.
Once the festivities got underway, there was no stopping the spirit of indoor hockey being celebrated. With brilliant music, superb work by Simon Martin on the MC duties and everything falling into place perfectly on the back of the wizardry of Sarah Blythe-Wood and Ross Willis. In fact, there are not enough words to praise the work ethic of Ross Willis in the role he plays for Psi, while Sarah had a dream and was bold and brave and courageous enough to turn it into reality.
The indoor hockey for the kids was so much fun that a group of cricket players on tour from Namibia took their days off to come and compete rather than tour, while the International games offered crowds of more than 1000 sensational entertainment and excitement. South Africa’s ladies and Namibia’s men were great value to the tournament and although there were some challenges with light, offered a supportive stance in helping African Hockey to develop. To their credit the Zimbabwean teams gave their fans, some great moments to support and there are many kids now who can’t wait to join the likes of Iman Johnson, Takunda Chipumha, Kudzanai Tembo or Jordyne Cripstone in the national teams!
To top off two fantastic series, Simon Martin announced that he would be inviting two Zimbabweans to join the All-Stars in December at the Psi Nationals. The Men’s invitation went to Zimbabwean captain Tendayi Mardeza, while the ladies’ invitation went to Lylie Wilde who impressed with her space management and reading of the game.
It would be remiss of me to try and thank each of the sponsors individually as I would leave somebody out, but each one of the sponsors played a superb role in helping the first ever Psi in Zimbabwe to be nothing short of a success.
All too quickly it was over, and I was headed back to my home in Johannesburg. It was an experience I will talk about for many years to come. I will be able to say I was there the day Psi Zimbabwe got underway and one day when I’m watching two African teams play in a World Cup match I will look back to moments like these and know that Psi was the foundation that turned Africa into a world leader.
Article originally written for PSi Hockey