Chris and Erin McCurdy, American missionaries in Zambia, made a new friend in Lusaka who also loved baseball. While the three played a game of catch they noticed a young boy watching. They invited him over to play. Soon, other children joined in. Every Saturday more children showed up to play.
February 2016, is when the McCurdys started inviting children to play catch with them. Several weeks later, they decided to make a baseball team as the children were intrigued by the game and wanted to know more. While teaching the children this new sport, they asked the youngsters to choose a strong, African symbol to represent the team. The children chose leopards due to how uncommon they are to Zambia.
Most of the children who make up the Chilundu Leopards team are from Chilundu, a neighborhood within Lusaka. They come from poverty-stricken families who live on a few dollars a day. The McCurdys want these children to have the opportunity to leave their burdens behind and have some fun. After all, the first rule on their team is to have fun.
McCurdy posted pictures and updates of the team to the Washington Nationals section of Reddit, which made the public want to know how to help with donations. Since then, a site was created to share information about the team that shows others what and how they can donate.
The Chilundu Leopards have 40 plus members and for now, the members create separate teams to play baseball against each other. They play the game on an old polo field, as there are no baseball diamonds anywhere in Zambia where the Leopards can play. Playing baseball provides the Chilundu Leopards an opportunity to get away from the burdens they face at home. No matter what else is happening in their lives, they have this field and this game.
The McCurdys want to keep this sport going. They met up with another American couple who are missionaries in Kitwe– Marc and Rachel Tannis–who had put together an adult baseball team there. In addition, they were also contacted by Zambian baseball legend, Chabi Chondoka, who assisted with teaching the children baseball. Chondoka played baseball in Zambia in 1998, and was later the head of what was once the Baseball and Softball Association of Zambia. His dream is to bring baseball back to Zambia, and with this new team and the awareness that has been generated both within and outside of Zambia, perhaps that dream may soon become a reality.