Our Seattle staff had the pleasure of hosting Lughano a few months ago. Lughano is from Malawi and is a soccer player from our partner academy, Ascent Soccer. She's currently finishing up her first year of boarding school in the US. We enjoyed spending a few days with Lughano as she shadowed us in the office, saw the Seattle sights and shared her perspective on what it's like to have Woza groups visit her country. The following essay was written by her and has been edited lightly for clarity.
I am Lughano Nyondo, an Ascent Soccer girls striker. Every summer, a Woza group comes to Malawi and plays soccer with the academy. Woza helps Ascent Soccer academy in many ways. The Academy has a cultural and social exchange, and the Woza players help coach and play soccer. There is a connection between Ascent players and Woza players, Donations and sponsorship (giving back), promoting the irrigation system at the academy, impact plans, and a lot of other things.
The cultural and social exchange is interesting. The academy divides up into groups and each of the Woza players chooses one group to talk to. We ask questions about how life is in their country and how school and soccer is in their country. The food they eat in the USA is different from the food we eat, and we are excited to hear about what they eat, what they learn in school, and how they practice in their country. We share with them about how life is in Malawi and what we do, like in December when many cultural events happen. People dance, cook and dress up for different special events in the country. We share that with them and what it means to us when those events happen.
We play soccer with Woza players and some of them coach us. We play games and have fun with the Woza group. We have a tournament and we get divided into teams and we play with them. We don’t only play soccer with them, but we also talk and do other things with them. They visit the Academy house and we cook our traditional food for them and they always love the food – it is a good experience for them because they are trying new things. The connections between us and the Woza group gets stronger and we stay connected to them. The Woza group donates soccer equipment to the academy, which is a good example for the academy of giving back to the community and people. They Woza group has helped the academy with the irrigation system for the soccer fields to grow the glass. The land where we have our soccer fields is so dusty and dry, and there is not enough water source to water the fields. The Woza group did a great job of helping fundraise for the irrigation system. Woza also helps the Academy financially, they raise money to buy things and help the academy in different ways. The money can be used to pay soccer player’s school fees, buy jerseys and other things that the academy wants to work on.
It is different people every year, but they bring the same connection and energy to the academy. A few years ago Chris, the founder of Woza, visited Malawi and it was so great to have him in the country. Chris came to the academy and he met the players in the academy. Most of the people from the Woza groups are still in touch with the academy. It is amazing to have the Woza groups in Malawi, we always learn new things from them and they always learn something from us too.