In the Copperbelt area of Zambia, softball was a big sport in the early 1970s. Teams competed from the various mining towns (Kitwe, Ndola, Chingola, Mufilira, Chililibomwe, Chibuluma and, of course, Luanshya with even a distant team from Lusaka taking a stab at it!). The sport was played over the Oct-Feb period with once per week matches being played by each team. I was a member of Luanshya's Roan Antelope Pirates made up of a strange mix of players from all over. We would practise twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and then have the big game on Sunday. It was quite an event, with the various families tagging along on the road trips and then afterward the Home team would put on a great braii (BBQ) with plenty of beer. We happened to have the best pitcher in the league (this was "fast-pitch" softball and Brent really knew how to wing them in with his underhand delivery)! I had never really played any serious ball until I came to Zambia but, when the locals heard that there was another Canadian in town, they figured that they were onto something. Whatever happened, we ended up winning the national championship two years running while I was there with the team (73-74 and 74-75) and, I believe, another one after I left for Canada. Photo of the happy 73-74 winning team with (front, left to right) Don Arsenault (Canada), Brent Parks (Canada), John Moseley (Canada), John Kanukula (Zambia), Ed Crookshank (USA) and (back) Jim Lonergan (USA), Terry Green (UK), Barry Lee (UK), Boniface Mbao (Zambia) and Glenn Brown (Canada). Sadly, big Boniface was killed in a car accident on Zambia's dangerous highways a few years after I left, but I still get emails from 'little' John Kanukula.
Equipment: The second photo shows me swinging for a hit in a September, 1973 pre-season warm-up game in Luanshya. Final score: Luanshya Pirates 19 and Chibuluma Lions 18 ! The final photo shows a typical road trip, with spectators in the stands watching a game we played in Kabwe, just north of Lusaka. Boniface is sitting in the middle of the top row and the spectators to his left are a mixture of Canadians, Brits and an American from Luanshya.
As a member of the Luanshya, Zambia tennis club team, I took part in a 1973 tournament with a Zairean club located about 160 miles west of Lubumbashi (Elizabethville) in Kolwezi. I was very well looked after by my Belgian host (shown here) who worked at the copper mines in Kolwezi. About 5 years later, in May 1978, this town was taken over by ex-Katangan rebels invading from Angola and Zambia, requiring intervention by French and Belgian paratroopers to rescue the hostaged population (though not until 160 of the expatriate prisoners and thousands of Zaireans had been massacred). This photo was taken in happier times although, as much as I hate to admit it, I lost the tennis match!
Equipment: The second photo shows some of the clay courts in the Luanshya club, located beside the Mine Club where the bulk of social activity in Luanshya took place. There was a nice bar where you could have a beer or a 'rock shandy' to enjoy while waiting your turn for a court to open up, and the weather in Zambia was fantastic. Due to my relatively slack teaching schedule of 18-hours/week (not counting preparation and marking) I had a regular Wednesday afternoon doubles-match here. A few times, as I walked down the long and beautifully treed avenues leading to the Club, I had to laugh out loud at how lucky I was to be in Luanshya, enjoying life in Africa!