By Jill Russell

On 23rd February, a delegation of 10, led by GB U23 Men’s Fastpitch Head Coach Richard Brown flew to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe for two weeks. The party was made up of Richard and his wife Alison, U23 Team Manager Jill Russell and her husband Gary, U18 Head Coach Ian Tomlin and his wife Clare, Simon Thacker, and three junior players - Bryn Davies and Kyle Johnson, both part of the GB U23 Men’s squad and the Eagles at GBFL, and Charlie Thacker, a member of the U18 squad.

They brought with them 11 bags of donated softball equipment, much of it from the BSF Donation Bin at Farnham Park, and, after lengthy negotiations to minimise import, they left the airport to settle into their hotel and a warm Zimbabwe welcome.

Witness Nkomo, the Secretary General of Zimbabwe Softball and Vincent Paswa, the Junior Development Officer, travelled from their base in Harare to Victoria Falls to welcome the GB group, and to express their gratitude for all the assistance that was being given.

The first part of the trip was a whirlwind tour of Zimbabwe, including the spectacular Victoria Falls, along with game drives in Hwange National Park that featured close encounters with elephants, giraffes, hippos and zebras amongst others. The groups also visited a houseboat on the Zambezi River and a visit to Matapos to see rhinos.

During the second week of the trip, the group visited a local children’s home, and a baby orphanage whilst in Bulawayo, and handed over various donations of clothing, money and old laptops.

Then after travelling to Harare, the entire travelling party ran two separate training days for local children, some of them who already played softball, and others new to the sport. The first day in Chinhoyi, hosted by Alaska Primary School was attended by about 60 local players, while the second session in Chitungwiza at Fungisai Primary School saw more than 250 children attend from the local area in very warm conditions!

The donated kit was used for the training sessions and then left with Zimbabwe Softball to distribute and use for their growing programme, with the head of the school declaring their intention to be the hub for Zimbabwe School Softball.

The support from many individuals on the ground with running sessions, and with translation was invaluable. New links and contacts have been made, and plans are underway to provide advice on training drills to help with their continued development.

The appreciation and thanks received from the players, coaches and teachers along with their obvious enthusiasm was overwhelming.

Witness Nkomo said, “I am personally grateful for what you have done, and I am sure the feeling is the same across all softball-loving individuals in Zimbabwe.”

Vincent Paswa added, “ Words are not enough to thank you for your unconditional love and support!”

As an expression of their thanks, the Eagles were presented with several specially commissioned pictures from a local artist.

Work is already underway to arrange for the GB Eagles team and others to return to Zimbabwe in 2026, to build on the work already done.

Thank you to everyone who donated old kit – this was much appreciated by all involved. Also, a huge thank you to all friends and family in Zimbabwe for their hospitality in welcoming the whole party.