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Building community spirit by fishing

Building community spirit by fishing

Building community spirit by fishing

ZT caught up with Angela Beresford Miller from Berry Juice Construction at this year’s Ava Moz Fishing Competition. Along with Tracy Edwards from Rushtail, Angela played a key role in organizing this year’s event.

ZT : How did this competition start?

The competition has been running for four years now. Originally it was run by Moz-Trading and Avalon and was by invitation only to all their customers and suppliers. This year, Rushtail and Berry Juice Construction agreed to get involved and we decided to open entries to any business that has a vested interest in the Tete region.

ZT : Tell us the history.

Sunday 18 November 2007 was the first Tete fishing competition organized by Donald Charles.  The previous Tuesday, Donald phoned all those he knew had boats and suggested a bit of a competitive edge to the normal weekend's fishing. To a man, everyone leapt in enthusiastically and five teams had entered by Saturday lunchtime. As Darren Butterworth and James Murray, two residents at the time, were having their birthdays on the 17th, we named it the Butterworth Murray Challenge. Fishing was from 1.30 pm to 5.30 pm, prizes were cash prizes which were all donated to the local orphanage, and about 12 fish were weighed in. That was the prototype of what we have today. Pete the Miner and his crew won that first competition.

Less than two years later, Donald Charles of Mozambique Trading and Brendon Bekker of Avalon combined their business resources to hold what was to be the first promotional fishing event, the AvaMoz Zambezi Invitational Fishing Competition. The loose criterion for invitation was ‘if you spend a million with us, or we spend a million with you, you qualify!’ A million ‘what’ was never clarified! That competition had 17 teams and the overall winners were Darrel Smith and Reg Swan of MLT.

The following year saw an increase to 28 teams. Due to a mix up in the team names at registration it was never clear which WBHO team won it, A or B!

In 2011, there were 27 teams entered. The conditions were the worst ever experienced in the competition. The wind blew and when it was tired of blowing, it howled. A similar event being held in Beira on the same weekend was cancelled because of the wind, but then they're not as tough as us!
Despite the conditions, the largest ever vundu and tigerfish  caught at any of these competitions were weighed in; a 25 kgs vundu caught by Michael McConnell, and a  6.9 kgs tigerfish was weighed in by Dirk Coetzee. Dirk was in the winning team of WBHO Riversdale, who also were the only team ever to weigh in a Cornish Jack in this competition.
   
ZT : I know Frank Von Habsburg has set up a community project  - can you fill us in on this?

Each year all fish that were caught and not successfully released were given to the Bairro Chingodzi community as a thank you for letting us use this section of the river. This year we decided to take it a step further and managed to get a water pump donated from Polytech and installation to be done by Agua para Africa to assist the communities that do not have direct access to the river. Next year we hope to take it a step further a build a classroom for them for their school.
This year we were able to give food donations to both the Bairro Chingodzi community and those of Baroma and they were extremely excited about the donation and are looking forward to next year’s competition.
   
ZT: Were there many people from outside Tete in the competition?

There were 12 boats that came from Zimbabwe and Malawi for the competition, but all travelling teams were associated with a company in Tete as this was part of the criteria to join the competition.

ZT : Do you think you will personally take this on again, and did you have a lot of help?

I would love to do the competition again next year. I think it is a wonderful means to build community spirit in Tete and of networking. It is also a way for those of us living in this harsh environment to take a couple of days away from the grindstone and to have some good, clean, relaxed fun!

ZT : What was the highlight of the competition for you?

Honestly, it was when it all came together and to see that many people out there and enjoying themselves. I have had wonderful feedback and I do believe that everyone had an absolute blast! I am also very proud of the number of tigers that were caught and successfully released; tiger are really difficult to keep alive out of the river.

ZT : Do you think the competition had a negative effect on the environment in any way?

I hope not. Yes we did have 46 teams fishing over the weekend but as much as possible everyone tried to catch and release their fish. Next year there will be bonus points for fish successfully released in order to encourage more of the fishermen to do so. They have a whole year to get proper live wells sorted!

ZT : Do you see this competition getting bigger and better in the future?

There were a few disappointed people who did not get their entry forms to us in time, as well as some companies that could not get boats up here in time so were not able to fish. However in saying this I do not think we want it to grow too big; we will definitely keep the criteria to companies involved in Tete

ZT : Thank you Angela; hopefully you can have a good rest after all the hard work.


Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 11, Dec 2012)