“Run with your feet, dream with your heart, listen to your coach, and your possibilities are endless.” -Team 100 Head Coach, Zach Gwandu

MATADORU STUDENT DONA Francis started the Team 100 Athletic Scholarship Program in August 2008 to help Tanzanian students who show academic and athletic potential obtain full athletic scholarships to top US universities. Says Dona, “We focus primarily on girls from the Manyara region…due to the severe inequities in education, their tendency to have babies very young, and the vast untapped athletic potential in the region….” Francis shares Team 100 photos in this essay about the organization’s work.



Although Tanzania has a strong primary education system, girls rarely continue on to secondary school. For young girls who are gifted athletes and good students, the Team 100 Athletic Scholarship Program is changing that.  The girls in this photo have short or shaved hair to prevent lice and make grooming easier to manage.


Athletic tradition

Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in Africa, but it has a long tradition of superb athletic talent. By involving girls in running from an early age and focusing on education, young girls are empowered to realize their dreams and develop skills to shatter a cycle of illiteracy, poverty, and teen pregnancy that has gripped their families for generations.



Most young students in Tanzania dream of a university education, while at the same time, coaches at U.S. universities dream of having a talented Tanzanian on their roster. This provides the perfect opportunity to utilize running to forever change the lives of young girls who may otherwise have few other opportunities.


The athletes

Team 100 athletes live at the training camp started by head coach, Zach Gwandu, in 2004. The girls train twice a day, running through the foothills and villages in Mbulu, a small town located in the Rift Valley. The girls range in age from 16-24, and the team's senior member, Zakia Mrisho, made her Olympic debut in 2008.



Local races are held bi-monthly to scout new talent. Girls are recommended by primary and secondary school teachers based on academic potential, and athletic prowess is assessed by coaches during local races and training workshops. Student-athletes who are invited to train with Team 100 are expected to maintain at least a B-average in school and meet stringent running standards.


Developing skills

The development of life skills and a strong work ethic are an important part of life at the training camp. Cooking is done in an outdoor hatch over wood fires, clothes are washed by hand, and living quarters are cleaned daily. Preparing meals is a leisure activity the girls particularly enjoy; it's a time to socialize, gossip, and chat about home.



A heaping portion of ugali with a rare treat of bananas and oranges is one of the most popular meals among the girls. Ugali is an inexpensive, carbohydrate rich staple in East Africa that sustains the athletes in their rigorous training schedule.



Not used to the glamour of beauty products, three of the youngest girls revel in the novelty of nail polish while getting ready for church.

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