Tuesday, March 25, 2008

F&M Match against African Champs

A focus on Chris Walters at Camp

Chris Campbell Memorial Field Dedication Part III

Field Dedication Video Part II

Hello from Lancaster. We are home from the F&M Soccer team portion of the F&M Soccer Africa Project. I would like to thank Brian, Josh, Charlie and Matt for their tremendous work on this blog. Unfortunately, we were unable to upload all of our videos when we were in South Africa. I am updating these now from the States. You will notice a 3 part field dedication which lasts about 15 minutes as well as a few other fun clips.

Thanks for following us.

Coach Wagner

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Safari

Friday Update

Hey everyone! Today was safari day and I just woke Josh up to finish his blog about the day, which is written below. We will upload some pictures from the safari that Charlie took and I am hoping to get another video up tonight. Coach wants me to upload a 15 minute video because he thinks its very important. Easier said than done. I am doing my best to try to get this video online, which shows the field dedication at the site where the Christopher Campbell Memorial Field is to be built. It will be up ASAP, please watch it. Thanks alot and keep the comments coming!

Culturally speaking, today in South Africa is not only Good Friday for the majority of the country’s Christian followers, but it is also Human Rights Day, commemorating this day in the 1960s, when hundreds of South Africans were killed for refusing to carry their legal passes and confronting parliament, demanding self-prosecution. However, Parliament decided to post-pone the official celebration of the holiday until May 2nd because Christianity holds the majority’s precedence.

Grogginess was not a factor this morning. My alarm clock sang to Giueseppe Bua and me the AT&T commercial tune at 5:30 this morning in the setting of our five-star hotel. A hot shower and some soccer review on the Goalissimo Channel later, and were chowing down on ham and egg omelets, muffins, and tropical fruits in the hotel’s breakfast buffet. We boarded the buses “randomly,” in Coach Wagner’s terms (everyone retreated to their regular seats despite the change in agenda), anticipating a two-and-a-half hour ride to Pilanesburg National Park Reserve for our safari adventure. While waiting to depart, a package sent from our Cape Town hotel arrived, containing left-behind passports and iPods that were reclaimed. And we now have new tour guides. On my bus, the Zulu jokester, Kenny, attempted to teach us how to speak Zulu, using clicks added within the pronunciations of word structures, which goes without saying was an impossible skill for us dead end English speakers.

Myself, as well as everyone else in the F&M crew slept the entire way to Pilanesburg. Much needed sleep. But I’m writing now on the bus (after the Safari and before) and everyone is asleep again, so I guess it wasn’t enough.

The safari was an experience totally different from simply visiting the Philadelphia Zoo. No animal sightings were definite. Adventure and discovery was the task. (I’m writing on the bus, and we just passed a 1 square mile sunflower orchard. Pretty awesome.) The first thing we crossed was a hippopotamus peeking out from under a tree branch in a lake, peacefully hovering next to a flock of Egyptian ducks. It took awhile before we saw anything; suddenly we found giraffes, waterbucks, kubu (my favorite animal on the trip and favorite meal, ironically), warthogs, and buffalo (only close up with anything better than 6.0 mega pixels). Our driver showed us a preservation area for wild dogs, which allegedly have a 99.9% killing rate, respectively, giving kudos to their immaculate speed and team hunting skills. They looked like a combination of a very hairy dog and a cheetah with white added to the mix of spots. Then, Jake Gantz spotted some female kudus and zebra before lunch.

A wild game barbecue was held within the park, consisting of saucy kudu, peppered beef, chicken wings, and custards and cake for dessert. It was after eating that the climax of “playing spoons” revealed to Matt Krantz the secret of the senior’s small prank on him.

My stomach hurt riding around on the bumpy off-road terrain for the first ten minutes after lunch. We had trouble finding animals during the heat of the day when they traditionally sleep in the shade or swim, but every now and then we saw the occasional zebra or waterbuck. Our caravan almost ran over a leopard tortoise. Soon baboons intersected our path with some warthogs nearby. But the finale, for my group, was getting stuck in a ditch 50 yards from two enormous rhinoceroses. We returned earlier than the other groups, where they saw everything we did with the exception for a herd of elephants; that would have been nice, but it’s all good because we are back on the road heading for dinner by ourselves in Sandton.

The day is over now. I have already been sleeping for a good twenty minutes, but Matt McCall woke me up, urging me to complete this tonight. So, once I resettled in the hotel after the safari, I gathered my crew of Matt Krantz, Eddie Stene, Giuseppe Bua, and Austin Luskin to get a simple Italian meal that would settle our stomachs from a week’s worth of foreign South African game. A funny thing I realized here, generally, is that when you eat at a culturally specific restaurant the employees do not correspond to the restaurant’s image (they are all African blacks), where the opposite is true in America (I missed feeling like I was actually eating in an Italian Restaurant).

We walked around the Nelson Mandela Square, a lighted courtyard of nightlife accommodating restaurants with beautiful women strutting around in every direction. I bought gelato, visited a bookstore, trialed African tribal music, and wished my eyes around a candy store before heading back to my room to completely pass out, twice! Night ya’ll. Hoobalaloo.
- Josh

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thursday's Pictures

Thursday Update

Below is a well written description by Josh of our day on Thursday. The pictures above were taken by Charlie at the Mamelodi Sundowns training ground. We are hoping to post another video tomorrow afternoon of the camp and possibly some game action if possible. Thanks for looking,

A combination of a minor stomach sickness and sleep deprivation made the majority of my day a portrait of delirium from my 5:30 wake up call, flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg, bus ride to the hotel, and lunch at the Sandton Mall. A turkey and ham club sandwich from the Deli Sandwich Café and a little window-shopping woke me up for the ride to Mamelodi Sundown FC’s practice facility for our game against the Premier League team’s first team bench players. Professional athletes, some, famous South African National Team players, ex-European Premier Leaguers, and others, just regulars on the largest and wealthiest South African domestic league team. We, umm, were expecting a lesson more than competition.

We arrived at the complex’s fluorescent yellow borders and hot green gates, gazing at our opponent’s chromed-out BMWs and Mercedes, in which the scenery welcomed us to a perfectly short-cut green pitch with twenty-two muscular, tall, and intimidating blue, yellow, and green shirts preparing for our match. Our first team warmed up quickly, and passed around the club’s official and very expensive Nike soccer balls. No feeling other than amazement hypnotized our focus.

Before the whistle blew, a striker for the opposite team, an ex-Tottenham Hotspur and South African International, asked if we wanted to get the ball first. Somebody on F&M responded no, and in an intimidating, but yet humorous retort, their striker said, “this may be the only chance for you to get the ball.” Both sidelines broke out into hysterics, now knowing that we were to expect a definite comedic beating. Their foot skills were prime and smooth; their organization epitomized clinical Brazilian-like movement, in comparison to our adapted defensive game plan; and their individual skills illustrated the true art of soccer. The first half ended 3-0. Then, Matt Melino had a troubling long distance shot on goal in the second half, against a new set of Mamelodi reserves, who were younger, less organized, but still exemplary of professional physique. The game ended 4-0. Both teams shook hands, we were content with appreciating the experience, and they were content with having a light run-through scrimmage.

The team showered in the Mamelodi club locker rooms and changed for dinner at the Argentinean Association of South African, in which Adrian Heredia’s mother is the President. She cooked a traditional Argentinean meal; carne asada, pollo, chorizo, pastas, rice, grilled vegetables, bread rolls, and for dessert, flan, strawberry crème cake, and caramel cake. The entire Heredia family was present, and many pictures were taken. The day was a difficult one, especially with very few consistent hours of sleep. Safari tomorrow, leaving at 6:00 AM, and no game!!!

Oh and by the way, we are currently staying in Sandton, one of the wealthiest cities in South Africa, where celebrities, wealthy businessmen, and ex-parliament members live. This beautiful city outside of Johannesburg reminds me of a combination of Los Angeles and Miami (although there is no beach, just a plethora of Palm Trees, pretty people, and expensive cars). The best part, there is soccer on television here all day!


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wednesday Pictures