Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Brian Fisher Update

Hey everyone, my name is Brian Fisher, I’m a senior business major here at F&M and I play defender for the F&M Men’s soccer team.  I’m going to be blogging a little bit about some of the things going on before we actually go on our Africa trip.  This is a really exciting time as we are rapidly approaching March 14, the day when we will leave for Africa.  For my first blog, I’d just like to give a little background on what exactly it is that we are doing in South Africa and why we are all so excited about it.

About a year ago, Coach Wagner came to all of us and proposed the idea of going on a trip to a foreign country before preseason in the August of 2007.  Possible destinations included Brazil, Argentina, or Europe.  We were all very excited about the prospect of going to another country together to play soccer.  However, things changed when Coach called us together for a meeting last spring and started off by showing us a video of U2 lead-singer Bono describing the HIV epidemic currently going on in Sub-Saharan Africa.  After the clip (which was probably about 8 and a half hours long—Coach has a huge crush on Bono) Coach brought up the idea of going to Africa for Spring Break of 2008.  This trip would be about much more than soccer.  One of the main facets of the trip would be to perform community service with a non-profit organization called Grassroots Soccer, which uses soccer as a means to spread HIV prevention information to a community in Africa.  Originally, many of us were a bit reluctant about the idea because we had really been looking forward to going to South America or Europe before the 2007 season, but it was impossible not to be excited about the opportunity to go to a community desperately in need of help and to possibly have a huge, positive impact.   

Things began to pick up as we decided on a location:  Khayelitsha, South Africa.  Khayelitsha is a terribly impoverished township of South Africa.  During Apartheid the black population was forcibly moved from their homes to townships like Khayelitsha.  Khayelitsha is the third largest township in South Africa with a population of about 500,000, the majority of which live in self-made shanty-homes and earn less than $2 a day.  We began figuring out the basics of the trip, attempting to raise funds, and collecting soccer equipment to donate to the community we would be visiting. 

On August 15, 2007, an event occurred that would change the Africa project, as well as much of the F&M community, forever.  Our good friend Chris Campbell passed away the day before preseason began.  It is impossible to put into words how tragic this was and how much pain we felt.  Campbell was a great kid and a great friend to many of us and he will forever be remembered and missed.  However, even in his passing, Campbell was able to have a positive impact on others.  His death greatly expanded the scope and capabilities of the Africa project.  His amazing parents began a foundation in his memory:  CTCTen, through which they have been tirelessly working to raise funds for a soccer complex similar to the one next to the ASFC that we play on.  The complex includes one full-length field, two smaller fields, a clubhouse, lights, and fencing.  This will clearly serve as a great resource for the community, and it never would have existed without the Campbells.  

This past fall the F&M soccer team had an unforgettable soccer season, and a great amount of gratitude is owed to the F&M soccer community and students for all their support, without which we never could have had the year we did.  Since the season, efforts have been focused towards raising funds and awareness about the project.  The Lancaster Intellegencer Journal ran a story about the project, as did CBS 21 News, which was really exciting for all of us and may serve to kick-start the acting careers of Ryan McGonigle and Jason Keil. At this point, thanks to the generosity and hard work of a lot of people, we have collected tons of soccer balls, uniforms, and other equipment to take to Khayelitsha, and have raised over $150,000.  In addition to the soccer camp run for local children with Grassroots to spread HIV prevention information, the soccer complex, and the soccer equipment; we are also raising funds to send an intern over to South Africa to work with Grassroots Soccer, and to hold a seminar for Grassroots to train 20 coaches and 2 master trainers.  The intern is going to be Ryan McGonigle, and the internship will begin July 1 and last for a year.  The hope is to send an intern over every year, and for the whole soccer team go back to Khayelitsha every 3 years.  

As we are currently less than 3 weeks away from our departure, I can’t even begin to explain how excited we are about this trip.  The facts describing the affect HIV has had on South Africa are startling.  In South Africa, one out of ever five adults is infected with HIV. Seventy-one percent of all deaths of 18-49 year old South Africans are attributed to HIV.  The average life expectancy for the nation is around 48 years.  We are literally going to have the opportunity to save lives and change the future of a community that is in desperate need of help.  I cannot help but feel that I live a relatively selfish life here as a college student; thinking mostly about the activities or exams or whatever else I have going on over the next week.  I think it is rare in life that we have the ability to make such a genuine and significant contribution to the well-being of another group of people and to be a part of something that is so much bigger than one’s self.  To describe the merit of this project in words is certainly beyond the scope of my ability; I am just grateful for the opportunity to be apart of it and for all the support we have received.  

Anyways, I hope you will follow the blog as we continue to post updates about everything leading up to the trip, and the trip itself.  Thanks for tuning in.



Anonymous Anonymous said...


Congrats on your post...what a good writer. Care to be a scribe on the trip?

March 2, 2008 at 8:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sounds like a really cool experiance. After all of the different things the team has been through this really is amazing. I'm a highschool student and was assigned a project that my teachers are calling "The Power of One Voice". We have to pick an issue in the world that needs to be adressed and try to adress it.Whether it's raising awareness, donating money, we have to do the whole report and all that other stuff with it but the most important part is actually taking action. I immediatley thought about poverty. I also thought about something I love just to make the project interesting. So I thought about soccer. The question was, how do I connect soccer with poverty? So after a little bit of thinking I decided that I wanted to encourage more fields and athletic centers to be built in countries that can't afford to give these types of opportunities to kids. Upon my research I stumbled upon this site and couldn't believe that it was almost identical to what I wanted to do with my project. Except for the part about raising AIDS awareness. So now I'm thinking about incorporating that into my report as well. Researching AIDS and poverty levels seems like pretty big issues to be researching so I know I can expand on my project from here. I want to also continue incorporating ideas on giving kids in countries in Africa opportunities to get there mind off of problems and go out, do some physical activity, and have fun playing sports. Hope you keep updating the site. I'm looking forward to seeing how everything goes. Good luck!

March 5, 2008 at 9:46 PM  

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