The first weekend of August 2017 saw the community of the Zambian Copperbelt mining town, Mufulira, bristling with excitement as they welcomed the Mufulira Sevens Rugby Tournament. SKF Zambia was delighted to join forces with Mopani Copper Mines in hosting this prestigious Seven-a-Side Rugby Fest.
SKF was one of the first sponsors to get on board with this highly popular international event which is breathing new life not only into Mufulira sport, but also into the town. SKF has contributed to the transformation of the Mufulira rugby stadium, now called the Leopard’s Cage; from very humble beginnings, the rugby stadium has been ‘converted’ into a world-class sporting facility complete with new change rooms, a sponsors’ viewing deck, not to mention the new advertising signage and playing field upgrades.
“Due to our involvement, everyone waited with great anticipation for the Mufulira Seven-a-Side Rugby Championship to kick off,” says SKF Zambia Managing Director, Sean Kennedy. “New additions to the stadium were completed at a frantic pace, all the lodges in the area ‘tackled’ spring-cleaning tasks, local restaurants prepared new menus and bars stocked up in readiness to welcome spectators, players and coaches.
The opening ceremony on August 4th was attended by all the participating teams which included two additional women’s teams and four international teams from neighbouring South Africa. “Our own Christian Chipamaunga from SKF South Africa, himself an avid rugby player in his youth, added to the international flavour by giving a motivational talk to all the teams on how sport can change people’s lives for the better,” continues Sean. “Christian noted that sport provides opportunities by developing the necessary life skills to succeed, adding that SKF’s involvement is contributing towards the development of young people and their talents by providing them with facilities and strong role models to reach their maximum potential.”
From the very first whistle, every match was an exciting spectacle. South Africa’s Golden Lions were the competition champions, walking away with the Cup while the Plate and Bowl were won by the Eagles and the Diggers respectively. The Mufulira Leopards A roared proudly as they walked away with the Shield!
The women’s game presented one of the highlights of the tournament; playing the Arrows ladies team from Lusaka for the first time, the Mufulira Ladies Leopards secured their first win, an indicator of how sport is beginning to ‘convert’ the town. With August being Women’s month, this win was even more special.
The traditional fancy dress 7’s party on the last day of the tournament proved very popular and Sean was a finalist in the competition. Dressed as a super-hero, he engaged with the local business community in a fun and memorable way.
The weekend’s entertainment also included school war-cry competitions, races, spot-prizes, good food, a Miss Mufulira Pageant and a Battle of the DJs competition. The junior tennis players from the nearby Mufulira Tennis Club served an ace to the tournament with a parade around the stadium to thank everyone for their support. Sean explains that SKF is the major sponsor of the juniors at Mufulira Tennis Club which takes children off the streets. “This unexpected show of appreciation was highly valued.”
According to Sean, word has it that the 2017 Mufulira Seven-a-Side Rugby Tournament was one of the best weekends ‘scoring’ high with the community. “Congratulations to Christian and the SKF Zambian team on being involved in a truly remarkable and memorable Rugby 7’s Tourament. Our involvement has injected new life into this small developing Copperbelt mining town and it’s sport and business areas are shining bright. With these efforts to get community involvement in sport at grassroots level, sustainable development can be better achieved by allowing the youth to dream and work towards a better future,” concludes Sean.
SKF Zambia is based in Kitwe, the country’s second largest city and the hub of the Copperbelt, and serves customers and end-users within the mining and general industries in the region.
SKF is a leading global supplier of bearings, seals, mechatronics, lubrication systems, and services which include technical support, maintenance and reliability services, engineering consulting and training. SKF is represented in more than 130 countries and has around 17,000 distributor locations worldwide. Annual sales in 2015 were SEK 75 997 million and the number of employees was 46 635. www.skf.com