Hi Ulemu, for everyone who doesn’t know you yet: could you introduce youself?
Sure! I am Ulemu Ngwira, I was born in 1992 to Lewis and Grace. I am a last born in a family of 8 with 4 sisters and 3 brothers. I was born in Blantyre Malawi and have since lived in Blantyre.
You have been a Hockey Dreams Coach for ….. years. How did you experience the journey?
Being a Hockey Dreams coach has been amazing. It gave me a platform to develop myself as person and also as a coach. I have been a coach ever since Hockey Dreams was introduced in Malawi. So basically when Jelle and Corine came to Malawi. Doing camps and having kids around me made me realize I needed to grow and become a role model. It pushed me to work hard both on and off the field.
What is the impact Hockey Dreams has made on your life?
In 2017, I had the privile to travel to the Netherlands for my Hockey Dreams trip where I had the chance to meet the elite coaches of Sportways hockey camps. At the camps, I had the privilege to coach amazing kids and learn how to organize hockey camps and coach and manage the kids. It was a wonderful experience, I still treasure the experience till date. During my trip I was also privileged to watch the Euro hockey games, it was a wonderful experience as I had the opportunity to watch and interact with the very best of international hockey players. This left a big mark on my life, both as a player and a coach as it catapulted me to higher levels of hockey. I tried my best to play at such a high level of skills and coach my fellow coaches how we can get to that level.
Community / origin
”Being a Hockey Dreams Coach gave me a platform to develop myself as person.Ulemu NgwiraHockey Dreams Graduate – Malawi
What kind of education did you finish?
I have done school up to knowledge level of accounting with ICAM, I am now studying professional level to attain chartered accountant paper.
That’s amazing! Could you explain how important it is in Malawi to have a diploma?
A diploma is important in Malawi as it helps you to get a job, but nowadays it’s still difficult to get a job with just a diploma, you need to get a higher qualification to find a good job.
What is your next step after Hockey Dreams?
Now that I have graduated from Hockey Dreams, I want to give back to the hockey family and the society in general with all that I learned through Hockey Dreams. With Hockey Dreams, not only do you learn about hockey but you also get an opportunity to develop and learn life skills which are important in daily life in our society. I intend to still continue with my community project and help change lives of the kids that I coach through hockey.
And what do you hope to achieve in life?
I hope one day I will be able to achieve my goal which is to build a village which will accommodate the underprivileged and help change their lives through hockey and other sporting disciplines. Sport is not only about the physical activities, it goes deeper. It is about the psychological development of those who partake in it. I believe sports is really good to have a positive impact on other people’s lives.
How do other kids and coaches see you? What kind of coach are you?
Other coaches and kids see me as a soft spoken, ever smiling coach, who is hard working and loves to see positive change, who enjoys learning from other coaches and kids. I am a holistic type of coach, who not only coaches someone about hockey, but rather a person as a whole. I believe for someone to be a good athlete, then they should also be at peace in all their aspects of life.
What are the top 3 things you teach kids?
Coaching kids is a wonderful and important responsibility. When I am coaching kids I also take pride in teaching them these 3 important life lessons.
- Empathy: It’s important to teach kids about empathy and understanding the feelings of others. By showing compassion and kindness, children learn to develop stronger connections with the other kids and coaches around them.
- Independence: Encouraging independence helps kids become confident and capable individuals. Teaching them to take on age-appropriate responsibilities and make decisions for themselves can foster a sense of empowerment and self-reliance. It allows them to express themselves both on and off the field.
- Curiosity: Nurturing a child’s sense of curiosity and wonder about the world around them can help them become lifelong learners. Encouraging questions, exploration, and creativity can spark their imagination and lead to a love of learning. It is important that a child is curious, this also helps me to learn new things from them when they ask me questions and it also challenges me to be a more holistic coach.
”I don't just coach someone about hockey, but rather a person as a whole.Ulemu NgwiraHockey Dreams Graduate – Malawi
How do you see hockey in Africa?
Hockey in Africa is still growing. We have a huge gap between the top teams and the other teams coming up. For example South Africa and Egypt are in their own league, majorly because of availability of equipment and technical expertise. Through Hockey Dreams the other nations are rising, we have seen now Malawi, Zambia and Uganda participating again at international tournaments because of the support from Hockey Dreams. For an average hockey player to buy a stick on their own, for example, here in Malawi it’s a toll order as sticks are very expensive. So the sticks we get from Hockey Dreams really helps, we are thankful to all those who support us.
What is something you would like to say to your kids and fellow coaches?
I would like to encourage my fellow coaches to keep on helping and developing the kids to be responsible and grow into good citizens through hockey. To the kids I say keep working hard and smart on the field as one day they will be representing their country at international level which is a dream for all athletes.
How do you expect to be involved with Hockey Dreams in the future?
I will still be involved with Hockey Dreams as a volunteer coach and all possible activities that may require my input and also possibly for a partnership as I will be realizing my goal of making a village for the underprivileged kids.
Looking back at your Hockey Dreams pathway, is there anyone you would like thank?
I would like to personally thank Gijs Hardeman for his idea of helping African countries to develop their hockey and also develop coaches. I am a product of such an idea and I know many who graduated from Zambia and are doing well because of Hockey Dreams. I would also like to thank Jelle and Corine who accommodated me when I was in the Netherlands, what a wonderful family. I would also like to thank Jan Willem and the entire Hockey Dreams Netherlands team for a wonderful job you are doing, your works are not going in vain, countries in Africa are developing and coaches are being transformed in their lives. I would also like to thank SportWays, an ever present partner for Hockey Dreams and all the partners and sponsors, keep supporting us we appreciate your support.