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Portuguese Sofia Domingos shares why she's so passionate to volunteer with Bhubesi Pride Foundation and 'lead the Pride'
“Some friends founded the first rugby club in town and I used to drive them in my dad’s van and take pictures of the games until one day they asked me if I would be interested in playing for a women’s team.”
“I played with the men’s team until we had enough girls to have our own team.”
At the time, Sofia was studying Sport Science so was able to use her love of rugby as a theme throughout her studies.
“I coached in two clubs in Portugal and at CRC where I worked as a rugby development officer, coach, player and game analyst. In 2014 I moved to Dublin to play for Old Belvedere and then in 2017 my journey with Bhubesi Pride Foundation began.”
Sofia talks animatedly about wanting to do volunteer work and began looking at options in 2016 and said of her decision to join BPF the following year:
“If I don’t do it now, I probably never will…”
So, within a couple of days she had applied to Bhubesi Pride Foundation and was readying herself for “a life changing proposition.”
As a volunteer coach Sofia immersed herself in the experience, signing up for a full 5 months and a 9-country expedition…
“I learnt how to be more patient in life, how to ‘wait with no stress’, about different cultures in Africa and how to better understand people – especially those in my team. I also learnt so much as a coach and how to work better within rugby development.
“When I arrived in Africa as a volunteer, I felt I had some experience as a leader – as the older sister at home and as a ‘team captain’.”
With such thoughts, Sofia felt she would like to return and lead a team of her own.
“I wanted to see what I could bring to the Pride as Expedition Leader – what could I develop, what experiences could I bring? I wanted to do it even better if I could!”
And return, she did!
Returning as Expedition Leader for the 2018 and 2019 expeditions was a huge 7-month commitment in each year.
During each expedition, Sofia wanted to become more open-minded, develop discussion within the team to help aid decision-making. She planned to have a wider impact on other people or the environment in which the individual was often participating.
The impact goes further than the coaching. Sofia related a funny story that might only happen in Africa – or few other places. Here the story is described by long-term 2019 Pride member, Becca Gannon. And as Sofia says – “it’s best told by Becca!”
“When we were leaving Orkeeswa [a school in northern Tanzania] one afternoon we were driving past a large watering hole that was almost entirely dried up. In the very thick mud Sofia and I noticed something… there were about four farm animals stuck badly in the mud. We shouted for our driver, Damian, to pull over and we all jumped out.
The two of us ran down the hill and spent a few hilarious minutes pulling out goats and sheep from the knee-deep mud, laughing like crazy and getting covered in mud. Just as the animals were running away to join their herd, two Maasai women came over the hill and saw us. They began to laugh as we were covered in mud for what seemed to be no reason – the animals had, by this point, disappeared! Sofia and I pointed to the mud and held up 4 fingers and said the word ‘goat’ in Swahili, “mbuzi”, and the women laughed, shook our hands and began to say what must have been a “thank you”.
This is a moment that will surely be remembered by both Sofia and Becca – and probably the rest of the volunteer coaches looking on from the BPF bus – at a time when Sofia, Becca and the charity were of course achieving so much more!
"I loved my experience in 2017 and wanted to learn more about Africa and the culture – I wanted to stay longer!"
“I see the impact our work makes on the development of local coaches year on year. This is most evident in Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia where the coaches are working very hard all year. Our BPF coaches arrive for a week or two to assist and encourage – they observe, learn and absorb everything we bring. It is so encouraging and impressive!”
Sofia has many highlights and successes as a result of her three years involvement. She feels proud at rising to the challenges of organising rugby tournaments. In 2018 this was made all the more difficult as, in some locations, new projects were being initiated.
“Budgeting, obtaining food and water, trophies… it’s a huge undertaking. But we did it! Feeding 300 hundred children and organising a tournament schedule was achieved with careful planning and terrific support from the team.”
You have two practical ways to help make an impact with Bhubesi Pride Foundation. Choose how you’d like to get involved.