Founding of Bantu Rovers
Bantu Rovers FC, a professional football club, was founded in 2008 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. It was co-founded by former footballer and co-founder of Grassroot Soccer, Methembe Ndlovu and businessman, Peter Grieve. Ndlovu attended Dartmouth College where he played soccer. After college, he continued his football career and played for Highlanders FC, a professional football club in Zimbabwe, and captained the Zimbabwe National Football Team in the 1990’s. In 2010, his alma mater awarded him the prestigious Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice award. Grieve is Bantu’s honorary President and serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for Bantu. He is also on the Board of Directors for Grassroot Soccer.
History of Bantu Rovers
In Bantu Rovers’ first year as a club, it competed in the Southern Region ZIFA Third Division. In 2009, a franchise became available in the Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League (PSL), and Bantu Rovers FC pounced on the opportunity to acquire the franchise and move up to the Premier League. Bantu Rovers FC competed in the Premier League for its 2009 and 2010 seasons, finishing 9th and 14threspectively. After its 2010 season, Bantu Rovers FC was relegated to the Southern Region First Division where it experienced much success. For its 2014 season, Bantu Rovers FC is back in the PSL after acquiring the Plumtree Chiefs franchise.
Bantu Rovers’ Partnership with Grassroot Soccer
Bantu Rovers FC is more than just a football club in that it invests considerable time and effort in developing its players not just as footballers, but as influential members of the community. Bantu Rovers FC instills life skills such as teamwork, leadership, discipline, resilience, communication, and confidence in its players, coaches, and management team
Bantu Rovers FC is partnered with Grassroot Soccer Zimbabwe (GRS-Z). Every Bantu Rovers FC player goes through a weeklong Training of Coaches (TOC) programme, which teaches him how to facilitate the Grassroot Soccer curriculum. The players volunteer for GRS-Z to help positively influence youth, act as encouraging role models to kids in the communities, and educate them about important issues such as HIV/AIDS.
Bantu Rovers’ Community Engagement
In addition to Bantu Rovers’ involvement with Grassroot Soccer, the club strives to increase its community engagement through various avenues. Other ways Bantu Rovers gives back to the community are:
- Bantu Rovers FC developed a youth programme with three teams: Under-14, Under-16, and Under-18. The club assists in developing the football skills of these youth, but also stresses the importance of school; the club financially supports its youth by helping with school fees, school uniforms, and examination fees.
- Bantu Rovers FC has arranged for many of its players to attend university in the United States through football scholarships. So far, the club has sent four players to the States, and it intends to send more in the future.
- Bantu Rovers FC gave its U-19 team the opportunity to travel internationally and compete in the Dallas Cup in the United States in 2013. It was an eye-opening and motivating experience for many of the players.
Bantu Rovers FC is very pleased with its partnership with Grassroot Soccer and is excited to have Grassroot Soccer as its official sponsor for its 2014 Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League season.