'You need to have a lot of patience and to understand the local context well.'

Organizational consultant Jeroen Stol has been building capacity within the Haarlem-Mutare sports project in Zimbabwe. In this section he shares his experiences and provides general suggestions for successful capacity-building.

Reason for the sports project

Haarlem and Mutare in Zimbabwe have been sister cities since 2000. The Stichting Stedenband Haarlem - Mutare was founded to elaborate and enrich relations between the two cities. The foundation works closely but independently with the city and other organizations and organizes activities in both Haarlem and Mutare. Sports is an important part of the partnership between Haarlem and Mutare. Graduates from the CIOS or ALO Sport Academies travel to Mutare as volunteers for six-month periods. They help train and advise sports leaders, teach physical exercise at schools and train athletes.

In 2000 a sports project was launched with a view toward anchoring sports in Mutare's local community structure. Sports are very important in Mutare and are an opportunity for involving young people in the community and teaching them to work together. The multitude of jobless young people in a city such as Mutare and the lack of prospects for improvement in the near future make sports one of the few worthwhile pursuits. In addition, sports help young people enhance their self-awareness and structure their lives.

Building capacity: sport development

Between 2001 and 2004 sports development worker Cees Versteeg was on assignment in Mutare. His mission there was to set up the programme. Educating local sports trainers was pivotal in this programme: unemployed young adults are to be trained to organize sports activities within the community. They needed the skills to arrange sports events, teach courses and the like independently. In 2003 the first group of sports trainers completed the programme. The sports trainers formed the Mutare Haarlem Sportleaders (MHS). Since then, MHS has coordinated and conducted sports activities. They receive assistance from the Netherlands to this end. After Cees Versteeg left in 2004, a junior expert provided local support. Several recent CIOS and ALO graduates have worked in Mutare as volunteers for six-month periods to supervise the project as well.