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

Latest Video

Matt McCall tried desperately to post this. He wrote me at 2:30 am where they are, three hours before they are scheduled for a wake-up call. We appreciate his burning it at both ends and battling slow wireless interaction with the blog. F&M's eDisk once again saves the day. The boys are tired, but enjoying themselves. Enough from me...


Due to a few technical difficulties we have been having some trouble uploading the videos. We are hoping that Steve Peed, F&M's director of athletic communications, can come through in the clutch and help us out with that. Below is a blog written by Fish (Brian Fisher) about our day Wednesday, which was one of the most emotional days we have had on the trip thus far. Fish is great with words so be sure to read what he has to say below to get a feel for what we are experiencing. Above are some pictures that were taken on Wednesday. Thanks for looking, and be sure to keep sending us comments!!!

Mohllo and Saubona,

These words mean hello in Xhosa and Zulu respectively. These are a couple of the words from these African dialects which I have learned and have been saying repeatedly over the last few days at our soccer camps in Khayelitsha. This is Brian again, giving Josh a break from blogging for the evening. I’d like to talk about everything that happened today, but first I would like to offer a little bit of my perspective on Cape Town and Khayelitsha.

Cape Town, South Africa is definitely unlike any place I have ever been too. I was talking to Dan Shuptar at dinner last night, and we both kind of agreed that our most pervasive observation about the area is the contrasts. Josh has written a lot about the great beauty of the area; particularly the beaches and the mountains. He also has mentioned the dilapidation and despair of Khayelitsha. This one of the contrasts I am referring to. Another is the obvious racial and economic contrasts. Townships, like Khayelitsha, which is the second largest in South Africa, date back to Apartheid times. Apartheid has been over for about fifteen years or so, but after generations upon generations of racial indoctrination, there exists some pretty strong obstacles and forces of inertia which prevent racial equality and integration. Thus, for the most part, especially residentially, the races are divided. At the bottom rung you have the blacks, of which the townships consist exclusively. Slightly above the blacks in socioeconomic standing are the coloreds, which have some African ancestry, who still live mostly in their own neighborhoods which, in general, are slightly nicer than the townships. Finally, you have the whites, who are at the top of the pyramid. The downtown area of Cape Town has all the appearances of a thriving commercial city, while not more than a few miles away lie the outskirts of the townships. It is almost surreal to be driving in our bus and to pass Mazzeradi, Ferrari, and Porsche car dealerships only a few minutes before we arrive in overcrowded townships where the nicest areas resemble American ghettos, and the worst areas are significantly worse. During the day, the downtown area is full of activity, but once the sun sets, the streets of Cape Town are barren from fear of crime. On a slightly lighter note, one thing I have noticed is that everyone drives on the wrong side of the road here. I told our bus driver this, but he continues to cruise along on the left side of the road.

One thing I was worried about with this whole trip was that we would come off as somewhat pretentious in our efforts. I was concerned that we could possibly be construed by the township residents as a bunch of wealthy white kids coming to their neighborhood to fix some of their problems because they could not and we knew better than them. This has not been the case whatsoever. As Josh said, the people from Khayelitsha have received us better than I could have ever expected. Every time our tour bus drives by people in the township, they wave enthusiastically and give us the thumbs-up. When we exit the bus, we are always greeted by a swarm of children offering us hugs and high fives. They make us feel like celebrities, and I can only hope that we can bring them half of the joy that working with them gives us. We learned a new handshake from these kids that has an interesting twist and that I am sure you will see us doing when we return to campus. In return, we showed them how to pound fists and explode, which they really seem to enjoy. In general, despite the great poverty and hardships they face, the kids seem to be very happy. They love to play around with us, and to sing and dance. Most importantly, they love soccer, and as we drive away from the townships after our camps we see people of all ages playing in the dwindling daylight on any plot of free land they can find. The kids don’t complain about anything, and I am amazed how well behaved and attentive they are.

On to today, which was another marathon day for us. Danny Levi called this trip an “un-vacation,” and that is pretty much the case. We had to be on the bus at 8 so we could make it in time for a tour of Robben Island. Robben Island held a prison where those considered to be “threats” by the Apartheid regime were imprisoned from the 1950s through 1990. We learned that we would be on the ferry that was taking us to the island’s maiden voyage, and I was relieved to learn its translated name meant “Freedom for us” and not “Titanic.” On the ferry ride to the island, eight of us sat together and every one of us fell asleep, just to give you an idea of how tired we are from our hectic schedule. This did not stop Mr. Keil from waking some of us up to point out to his son, Jason, a scenic mountain and some clouds. Surprisingly, we didn’t appreciate it as much as he did. Once we got to Robben Island, we received a bus tour around the island, and a tour of the prison itself; both of which were given by former inmates of the prison. Our bus tour was especially good. Not only did the guide successfully shut Ryan McGonigle up, which is no easy task, but he also had a lot of great information to offer. He told us that during the Apartheid period, the government actually passed a law that stated that anyone could be arrested and imprisoned at any time without a trial. We also got to see the lime mine where prisoners worked. At this mine, prisoners taught other prisoners how to read and write, as it was the only time when they were allowed to talk to each other. The prisoners took up the motto “Each one teach one,” and as a result many of the prisoners of Robben Island have gone on to achieve great things, including holding seats on South Africa’s current parliament. This message resonated with me especially in light of our work helping to spread HIV prevention information to the kids in Khayelitsha. We also got to see Nelson Mandela’s former prison cell.

We then were shuttled to the Ikuzi School for our last soccer camp with the kids from Khayelitsha. Once again we received a warm welcome from the locals. We got to help the Grassroots Soccer trainers with the “life skills” portion of the camp, which are games focused on spreading HIV prevention information. That was a lot of fun. We then ran the soccer portion of the camp. At the end of the camp, everyone circled up and sang as trainers, F&M students, and Ikuzi students were pulled into the middle to do dances which everyone on the outside would mimic. Our coach was pulled into the center, and he decided to do the “YMCA” dance. He was quickly removed from the center of the circle, and we all agreed to never speak of this again. Haha, just kidding, we hope to get the video of this on the blog so you can all see the bewildered and embarrassed expressions of the Ikuzi and F&M students alike. However, Coach redeemed himself during a ceremony held after the camp, in which Coach, with the help of Raja (a Grassroots Soccer trainer) explained that we would be donating lots of soccer equipment to, and building a brand new soccer field for, the school and the community. I cannot explain to you how big of a deal this is. The current field upon which we will be building this new field is just a bumpy, sandy plot of land. Every now and then, I would see a small child jump up and down in pain as their bare feet stepped on a large rock or a piece of glass. The kids were very excited to hear about the new field, and they thanked us, sang to us, and followed us to our bus (despite the trainers’ best efforts to restrain them) to say goodbye for the last time. Working with these kids and the Grassroots trainers, who are residents of Khayelitsha themselves, has been so much fun, and the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I think I speak for everyone else on the team when I say it was extremely hard to say goodbye to these amazing children for the last time.

After the camp, we played a soccer team based out of Khayelitsha called Ikaapa. This team included one former South African national team captain who Adrian told us is basically a legend in South Africa. For the first time since we arrived here, we actually played well. Unfortunately, the winds of fortunate were not with us, and we lost on an unlucky own goal, though we had the better of play. The atmosphere was fantastic as many members of the Khayelitsha community came out to watch us play and to cheer us on. One particularly enthusiastic fan ran up and down our sidelines with a horn starting cheers for us and yelling at the ref that he was “stealing his joy” whenever he made calls in favor of Ikaapa. After the match, we signed some quick autographs for some kids (yeah, seriously), left Khayelitsha for a restaurant to enjoy a delicious feast of different traditional African foods. Now, I am off to bed as we have to be on the buses at 6 am tomorrow morning to catch a flight to Johannesburg.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday's Pictures

Tuesday Update

Hey everyone. Below is another well-written update from Josh on the adventures that took place on Tuesday. I apologize it is taking me a bit longer to post these but coach insists on us putting in some video of the day so everyone at home can get a chance to see what we did (video will be posted as soon as it finishes downloading which might not be until morning). Be sure to check out the great photos Charlie took and keep writing comments! We read and appreciate them. Thanks,

Another long, long, hot day in Cape Town, South Africa. The morning went by slowly. The F&M brigade boarded the buses at 8:30 this morning, expecting a two-hour drive along the most southwestern coast of the African continent. Our adventure was not a straight shot to our destination at the Cape of Good Hope, as we stopped at several photo-ops along Capeman’s Peak, which is the historic long, mountainside winding traffic trail that passes through Table Mountain National Park, acting as a mini safari at times, witnessing baboons, ostriches, and gazelles, and at other times, a frightening, driving escapade that caused our caravan of buses to skim the edges of tight-turning curves and, although remodeled, extremely narrow roads. Looking down, always to our right, we witnessed some of Earth’s most extravagant works of art, deep gullies that flowed greenly over ridges into white sandy beaches, and finally into the blue holographic-looking depths of the Atlantic Ocean, backgrounded by more towering and overpowering, but still very intricately sculptured mountains.

When we finally arrived at the most southwestern tip of Africa, our tour guide, Abraham, warned us of wearing backpacks, in fear of baboon attacks. Of course, Geoff “Iceman” Dreher emptied his backpack and brought it out, in hope that he would be attacked, so that he could show-off his “wolverine-like” strength in fighting off the monkeys. No monkeys to fight off, but everyone captured unbelieveable pictures of divine eloquence. Oh, and all the while at the Cape of Good Hope, the bordering ocean area is known as one of the most populous areas of Great White Sharks that prey on seals surrounding the beach tips. Then, we rushed out of the park, heading to see the penguins. A short walk to the beach and a retreat to the buses set us in a hurry for our second day of Grassroots Soccer Camp at the Ikhusi Primary School in Khayelitsha Township.

The school was located in a drastically worse part of the township, Baphumelele, than our camp from the day prior. Again, as we did Monday, children dangerously surrounded the bus, no nerves this time, high-fiving us just the same. We entered the school grounds, walked past a graffitied basketball court and a gospel-sounding chorus room, reintroduced myself to Ethan Zohn, ducked away from the camera crew, and stepped onto what they called a “field,” but what I would naturally refer to as a sandbox with rocks, dirt, wood-chips, trash, and the occasional patch of grass, which altogether, padded the balls of shoeless and sockless footed soccer. This yard very close to where the Chris Campbell Memorial Complex will be built; a turf field, two futsol courts, and club box with full lighting. VuVu gave me a hug and a friend not mentioned in my yesterday’s post, Laterri, reintroduced himself to me and talked to me for awhile about my game-play against Ajax Cape Town (he came to watch); he asked me to try to find him a pair size 9 puma cleats (ugh, I really wish I could just hand him one of the pairs we brought over, maybe Coach will let me). I was immediately dragged into a circle of children, accompanied by Eric Corsini, Jake Gantz, and Neil Siegrist. We watched a boy named, Cissé, engage in a freestyle and acapella rap, what seemed like a battle or maybe just a song, with three other kids. Cissé followed me for a while. We played, essentially, a more complicated form of tag, and some heading and catching games. VuVu taught me the meanings of some Xoza (with a “click” in the pronunciation) words and phrases, so I could repeat them to the children. Time went really quickly. A crowd of children paraded us out again, following us down the road to Site B Field to play the Khayelitsha All-Stars.

Site B had the entire Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles in the background. The field itself was a bombshell, rocks, dirt, sand, no grass, or patches of two-foot grass, and regular septic tank holes. I started the game unexpectedly. The opposition was extremely talented, and had Brazilian-like soccer organization tactics. They scored first and second. Brian Homer-Gunther almost capitalized, and Matt McCall’s goal was called off-sides. The end result was 2-0. Yes, the game was in itself an experience, but the real experience dealt with the children parading our sideline, our half time talk, and our post game jersey exchange with the players. About twenty to thirty children sat on the laps of bench players, touched our muscles, equipment (shin guards, socks, and boots), and hair. Giuseppe Bua and Dan Shuptar spent the entire game arm wrestling and talking in funny accents to the kids. Brian Fisher, Dani Levi, Geoff Dreher, and I found ourselves jokingly tackling kids, picking them up and spinning them around on our shoulders, or in Fish’s case, his neck.

Back in the bus, Coach decided that we would shower before dinner, and then everyone had an independent night out at Mariner’s Wharf. I need to go to bed. The days are getting more and more difficult with less and less sleep. Another beautiful day. Night.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday Video Clip

MONDAY VIDEO CLIP (we don't know how long it will take to load but its only a couple minutes long... be sure to watch it!!!!)

Monday Pictures

Monday Update

It's midnight here and we just put together a quick little two minute video and put some pictures together. Coach did most of the movie, I just added some finishing touches. Below is an blog that Josh, who turns out is a very talented writer, wrote about Monday. Feel free to "comment" at the end of each entry to let us know what you think or would like to see. Thanks for looking....

I’m on my hotel porch looking out at the Cape Town Skyline, where the skyscraper lights shine brightly, but do not overshadow the centered moon and it’s neighboring stars. I think of my black and white bracelet that represents the good and bad in life, which completes life, and today was the true epitome of life to its greatest degree.

We woke too early to function for what we had planned; yet we learned that adrenaline is quite a powerful self-stimulating drug. After breakfast we boarded the bus wearing running shoes for a light jog and stretch on the Waterfront by the beach. The exercise jumpstarted us. Back on the bus, we circumnavigated the tourist attractions in downtown Cape Town, viewing them from the inside of the bus. Our guides briefly showed us around the Castle, which is the oldest and first architectural structure in Cape Town. The history behind the building very much coincided with that of South Africa, thus priming our knowledge of this magnificent place. Our stomach’s called to us for food, but that adrenaline again kicked in when our ears began to pop while riding a Gondola to the top of Table Mountain. Several thousand feet high, I looked down upon the Atlantic Ocean to the right, the Indian Ocean to the left, and multi-shaped valleys, crevices, and mountainsides made up of granite boulders intermingled with 40 foot-plus sized trees and dominant patches of tall green grass. Taking pictures was even a difficult task because no focus was justifiable to the greatness of what I was discovering. Again, please look to Charlie’s pictures. This was most certainly one of the three greatest events of the day.

I ate, took the gondola back to lower grounds, and the Fummers headed for Khayelitsha for our first and highly anticipated, both fearful and excited of our expectations. First I must explain that Khayelitsha is a shanti town made up of millions of families, poisoned by HIV/AIDS virus, living in a space not nearly half the size of New York City, without the high-rises. Extreme poverty here is the standard, and bad enough to make the town establish its own micro economy. The trip to the Khayelitsha was dense with depressing imagery of homes constructed of tin and/or wood that had limited electricity, running water, and plumbing. On top of that, each home had no property outside of the actual perimeter of the home itself, meaning no back or front yards, just dirt roads filled with scattered rocks, massacred pieces of pavement, and barb-wired gates. Our driver made a right hand turn onto the road where the school and field was located, the venue where we held our camp in allegiance with Grassroots Soccer and Soccer for Hope to promote HIV/AIDS awareness through the trust and love established upon the roots of soccer. Hundreds of eight to fourteen-year-old black African students surrounded our bus, waving, chanting, smiling, and dancing, while even more awaited us inside of the gated school property on the crummy grass fields. I was terrified, no doubt, especially after seeing a city of depreciated homes and people. I will even go as far to say that everyone on the bus was feeling the same way as I was. The bus stopped. I was the last to get off. My foot touched the soil with trembling interior fear and claimed an awkward smile. Both feet rested and immediately, children were giving me high-fives, pounds, and special hands shakes, blowing kisses in my direction. Weaving my way through a 30 yard crowd of what seemed like a red carpet runway, I reached the gates of the schoolyard, smiled with relief, and any fear I may have had, vanished, completely! A boy named, Vianni, grabbed my hand, dragged me to the center of his group of friends where I was giving hand-shakes and pounds, my head spinning in all directions, and traditional African names being thrown at me. I restated every child’s name once it was pronounced to me. When I said it correctly, they smiled and hugged me. I left Vianni and ventured to different groups of boys. They saw my long hair and asked me if I play like Ronaldinho, when I of course said no, but pointed them in the direction of Giuseppe Bua. It seemed as if each F&M soccer player wearing a fluorescent yellow Grassroots Soccer shirt was surrounded by an average of 10 to 15 kids, who bombarded by hand shakes.

Vianni found me in a crowd, held my hand, and sang to me traditional African songs. I danced with him, applauded, and followed him in the afternoon activities. Some of the activities consisted of small soccer drills or games, and while soccer was out of the picture, Soccer for Hope Instructors organized circles of children, in which we danced and sang, always clapping and moving our hips. An instructor named, VuVu taught me some dance moves, laughed at us, and admitted to me that Lane Bodian and I are “funny dancers.” (We have no rhythm.) I spent almost the entire time with this eleven-year-old boy Vianni, who followed me like a celebrity, and I followed him like a son. When it was the end the session, all participants gathered in a great herd of over 400 people jumping, chanting, singing, and dancing, whites, blacks, men, women, and children of all ages. Mr. Corday whispered to me in my ear that we would be leaving in 2 minutes, and a sullen feeling struck my eyes, literally my tear glands. I began to tear but held myself together. I sang louder, and then yellow shirts faded away from the circle. I told Vianni I had to go and he got choked up, jumped on me, hugged me, and said to me, “I am gooin’ tou miss you very much.” I responded without a thought in my mind, “I am going to miss you too, buddy.” He waved goodbye and began clapping and singing again. I pulled my head away, looking oppositely from the herd of people, I choked up fully, truly, and a tear fell from my eyes, I swear to God, and I was never expecting this.

The soccer team walked backwards towards our bus because all of the students stopped cheering once they saw us leave, and ran towards us, all 400. Unbelievable. From the bus Vianni and I waved to each other and parted, running after the bus all the way down the dusty street.

Now it was game time against Ajax Cape Town, the youth reserves of a South African professional side that is a feeder club to the Holland Champions League competitor, Ajax. Every player on Ajax was black and we are all white. Our warm up was short. The pitch was watered. We took the field, Dutch System vs. Dutch System. Ryan McGonigle accounted for the first score of the game. It was a well-fought game. Ajax being too settled for our condition and fatigue, they dominated possession and finished goals. The end result was 6-2 (G, Corday).

Exhausted, we headed for dinner. My roommates ate at a good, dark, and wooden wine and steak restaurant. Adventurously, Eddie ordered Ostich Steak, Giuseppe got Warthog on a skewer, and I devoured Kudu with rice and shaltanas.

As I said, the good and the bad coincide within each other, making days like this, one of the best days of my life.


Sunday Update

Here is a quick blog from Josh, one of our talented freshmen, which describes our first full day in South Africa (sunday). Josh will write again about today (monday), which we will try to post tonight (about 5-6pm Eastern time). Today is the first day of the camp we will be running, and we play Ajax Capetown's reserve/U19 team today (if you have never heard of Ajax, google them.... they are a HUGE club), which is a huge game for us. Thanks for checking out the blog, and look again for a post tonight.....

I am sunburn, dried up from seashell-crushed sand, and dizzy even from the most relaxing of expected days here. Today my roommates, Eddie Stene, Matt Krantz, Giuseppe Bua, and I woke up to bongo drums playing in the streets right outside of the hustling metropolitan downtown area of Cape Town, dressed in beachwear, grabbed our cameras, sunglasses, and headed to a hotel breakfast that would last us for the next six hours on Camps Bay Beach. An ideal breakfast for a leisurely day- varieties of citrus-based and tropical fruits, meats, scrambled eggs, hot tea, and real orange juice, not the Florida-made pulp free stuff found in Giant. In all honesty, the best orange juice I have ever tasted with 5 cups to show for it.

Our large group of 50 or so gathered in the front of the hotel to discover what we had missed in the sky-line the night of our arrival. Hovering over our heads, shadowing down on the pastel colored homes climbing up the mountainside sits Table Mountain and it’s Twelve Apostles (the name given to the mountain’s 12 peaks). Cameras flashed, and now thinking about it, they did not stop until it got dark. Every sight in Cape Town is a perfect picture moment.

Finally, we huddled onto our buses that drove to the flee market across the street from a renovated stadium that will go from holding 21,000 to 68,000 for the 2010 South African World Cup. Construction was everywhere in the up-and-coming Cape Town beach area, except for in the parking lot of the flee market where flimsy tents extended for over 400 meters of straggling street-selling, bloodily ambitious natives, sold bargainable self-made crafts, jewelry, paintings, and sculptures on the cracked asphalt and dirt/sand glazed dug-up tree-rooted ground. I bought jewelry and paintings for my family and myself, where the rest of the F&M contingency did the same. Some interesting articles were elephant hairs bracelets, Zulu patterned cloth blankets, fish bone necklaces, and abstract Khayelitsha soccer paintings. Haggling and bargaining was all part of the experience when a boy of about 12 years old, working at a jewelry crafts stand, offers you a “special discount” on the slightest of significant pieces- it hits hard- he asks for money, begs nearly down to the bone- it hits harder- and you walk away saying, “Sorry, no thank you.” A feeling of pity and remorse settles in, and even scarier, it leaves you once your eye catches hold of something new that you want to by with the money that came too easily.

Walking back onto the bus I walked to the right side of the bus to board, then realized the entrance was on the left. Stupid American- not knowing that the driver seat is on the right. A security guard, specifically this one guy with dreadlocks, stood at our door, almost following us onto the bus, begging us for a tip, in which he essentially did nothing. The dreadlock guy got a soccer ball and began juggling it with a bunch of his co-workers. Eddie Stene, loving their love for the game, and having not touched a soccer ball yet that day, dropped his backpack in his seat, not thinking for a second, left the bus, and joined the casual game. As Eddie was out there running around, we on the bus watched the beauty of the world’s game, joy. More and more security officers added to the game, totally neglecting their job just to kick or head a beaten and corroding, no-name soccer ball. Eddie left, ignoring calls for money from them, but one of them said, “The love you show for us out there is greater than the love you will get from the man you were looking for on the bus, in there.” That’s speaks for itself. Beautiful.

Our tour bus took us through Clifton, the wealthiest of bayside areas in Cape Town with 7 million rand homes (million dollar homes), and arrived at Camps Bay, in which we spent the entire day. The scenery is indescribable, and even if I were to attempt to articulate it, then I would eventually resort to some mystical depiction of the divine’s influence on nature that is, in itself, is indescribable. So, look at Charlie’s pictures.

But the beach I will say was perfect in all aspects of life. The weather was about 86 degrees Fahrenheit, no wind, and the sun’s orange glare floated on the ocean’s surface all day. The water was absolutely freezing cold but refreshing, and provided a sense of adventure in running into it. The heavenly scenery existed in contrast to the begging and selling beach mongers. Volleyball games, singing, dancing, nudity, Giuseppe’s water standing contest, and soccer in all directions, especially where I was standing, in the center of a circle, playing keep-away with Dani Levi, Matt Krantz, Eric Noto, Eddie Stene, Giuseppe Bua, and five teenage South African blacks. The South African’s were slide tackling, dribbling around Krantz, sweating, and playing as if it was the World Cup.

Five o’clock came around and our parade of Americans ate dinner at a restaurant called, Primi. I ordered seared sirloin Focaccio with marinated tomatoes and spinach for 50 rand. The dinner was delicious, too much food, and after that we were all exhausted. We headed back to the hotel for an orientation about our camp and game tomorrow. Imagine that today was our leisure day. Time to go to bed. Midnight.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

First Few Days....

First Day Update from Fish....

We are trying out best to work out the internet situation here in South Africa and making sure to update the blog site as often as possible. Hopefully we will be able to post at the end of every day here (about 10pm - midnight) so look for posts around 5 - 6pm Eastern Time.... Here is the first blog from Fish on the Trip....

Hey there,

Wow. So it is 11:05 pm on Saturday March 15 in Cape Town, South Africa and we are here safe and sound. For those keeping track at home, that means we are 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time here. According to my rudimentary understanding of physics, that means we have time traveled into the future. Haha, but seriously, it has been a looonnnnggg trip, but we are all really excited to finally be here. We left F&M around noon EST, and arrived at our Best Western in Cape Town about 28 hours later. At the beginning of the trip, Coach described today as “organized chaos,” and that’s basically what it was. As it turned out, South Africa customs basically let us smuggle 30-some odd bags of soccer equipment (which we are donating to townships in the local Cape Town community) into their country without even batting an eyelash, so we really lucked out there.

The longest part of the trip was the flight from Washington DC to Johannesburg which was about 14.5 hours long. I do not know if it was the excitement of knowing what lies ahead of us over the next week-and-a-half, the fact that we were all together on the same plane and we usually don’t struggle to have a good time, or the relatively nice accommodations of the airline (especially for myself and Danny Levi who saw two open seats in the front row with extra leg room and snuck up there to take them), but I think overall that flight was not nearly as awful as we expected it to be. One cool thing occurred on the plane when it was 9:30 pm EST and we were flying somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean and the pilot announced that we should shut our window shades because we would be approaching daylight. Also, while we were at altitude, the plane said the air outside was -70 degrees Fahrenheit, which I find hard to believe, but was not willing to go outside and see for myself. Finally, apparently flying for long periods of times causes your ankles to swell, which really took the debate over whether seniors Ryan McGonigle or Chris Walters has larger kankles to a whole new level.

So I can’t really say much about Cape Town yet, because as we drove to our hotel it was night and we couldn’t see much; but, one thing I can say is it is crazy windy here tonight. During one gust, freshman Matt Krantz was almost blown out to the ocean. Also, sophomore Lane Bodian pointed out that over the next two weeks we will be experiencing all 4 seasons. While we are in South Africa it will be changing from summer to fall. When we left F&M it was still winter, and when we come back it will be spring, so that’s a pretty fun fact for you. I do not know exactly how internet works at our hotel, but hopefully we should have someone making an entry for every day. Anyway, 28 hours of traveling is no day at the beach, so I am going to go relax with my roommates, and look forward to tomorrow which is our day to hang out on the beach.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Truly Grassroots

This morning I watched soccer players and their parents pack suitcases full of soccer gear and load them onto a trailer and a bus. A collection of full sets of uniforms that other wise would have been thrown away. There were soccer shoes small enough for a four year old, and large enough for a teenager. There were soccer balls well past their prime by American scholastic standards, and well superior to anything the South African children who will ultimately use it has ever kicked.

The gear was packed into suitcases, travel bags, and then onto a bus, and the back of a pickup, and into a trailer hitched to that pickup. With approximately $250,000 USD towards the Christopher T. Campbell already raised, a welcome surprise arrived for the departing team. Kelly Horn, an F&M student who quietly leads campus tours for prospective students, arrived with an envelope full of loose change, singles, and whatever else her classmates could spare. All of the change added up to approximately $1,000.00 more for the effort.

At 5:30 p.m., the Diplomats’ delegation of 53 departs Dulles. 16 hours of flying, a four-hour layover, and four more hours of flying lies ahead of them. While it isn’t the typical spring break glorified in 80’s movies, you’d be hard-pressed to find a spring break more glorious.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Update from Brian Fisher

Hello Hello,

It’s been a very busy weekend with lots of events going on to raise funds and awareness about our Africa project. First of all, on Saturday, March 1, Sigma Pi fraternity and Alpha Phi sorority held their first annual benchathon. The benchathon is a fundraiser wherein participants take pledges based on how much weight they can bench press. I caught the end of the event, and I have to say those Alpha Phi girls can really throw some weight around. Haha, actually the sorority held a bake sale, and made and sold “Africa Project” t-shirts. On the same day, the dance team held a dance-a-thon, where they danced for 12 hours straight. These girls are so talented, they could be in a movie like “Stomp the Yard.” Dance Team senior Steph Dick even got a free dance lesson from yours truly, so you know she has skills. These events raised a ton of money and the proceeds were generously donated towards our Africa Project. I can’t begin to say how grateful we are to these groups for contributing to our cause; I don’t think any of us could have expected this kind of support from other organizations—it really is amazing and a testament to the great students we have at F&M.

The following day, we held our first annual “Kicking Aids” 3 v. 3 Soccer Tournament. The tournament was held in the ASFC and had two leagues of varying levels of competition. Each team got two exhibition games, and then they entered a one-loss elimination tournament. The winners of each division, and the winner for best “uniform,” were given $50 gift cards to the Sugar Bowl, the Brickyard, and Thomas’ Campus Deli, which were generously donated by the restaurants. There were some great costumes, with my personal favorites being Team Walk of Shame, Team Road Signs, and of course, the leopard-printed winners: Team Jungle Fever. As for the level of play, there were flashes of brilliance, such as the play were sophomore Celeste Tarbox split two defenders and finished for a magnificent goal, or the kid who performed a Maradona past a defender and finished the move by rolling it into the goal. I also got to witness the spirited play of red-headed wunderkind Brian Homer-Gunther, who nearly led his team of swimmers to a premier division championship. To top it all off, I was fortunate enough to referee the match between the two teams composed entirely of Chi Omega sisters, which I can only describe as the highest pinnacle of soccer competition yet achieved, haha. At the end of the day I think all the participants and those who came out to support the cause had a good time, and I am glad to say we avoided any fights, though things certainly got heated a couple of times between sophomore teammates Eric Corsini and Gabby Chabrier. Thank you to all who participated and contributed to our cause.

Then, on Monday, March 10th, former Survivor Africa winner and co-founder of Grassroots Soccer, the non-profit organization we will be working the camps with in South Africa, Ethan Zohn came to campus. The soccer team had a chance to hang out with him and talk to him about what to expect in South Africa. Now in a previous entry, I mentioned that our coach has a crush on Bono of U2, but this crush is dwarfed by the one he has on Ethan. But seriously, Ethan is a really cool, down to earth guy. Additionally, all the seniors agreed, as I’m sure would all the females on campus, that Ethan is a total dreamboat. Haha. Ethan gave a speech about his experiences on Survivor and as a professional soccer player in Zimbabwe, and what these experiences taught him aobut life and why they led him to start Grassroots Soccer. He is a great public speaker and a really funny guy. After his speech, some seniors on the team got to explain what exactly our Africa Project entails. Finally, Faith, a freshman field hockey player from Zimbabwe, spoke a little about her experiences living in a country decimated by HIV. Faith is an amazing person and a really sweet girl.

Finally, on Tuesday, March 11th, we held our last big fundraising effort as a team before we leave for Africa. Between 5 and 9 pm, 25% of the bills for all orders from students and friends of F&M at 2 local Isaac’s Deli locations were donated towards the Africa Project. We even set it up so that members of the soccer team could deliver orders from the downtown restaurant to campus. Supposedly, there were so many orders that Isaac’s almost ran out of food. I delivered food for a while, and I can say that food delivery is not a career I will be pursuing after graduation. However, while I know it took a while for some people to get their orders, I was amazed how pleasant and grateful everyone that I delivered too was.

I’d just like to take this chance to thank everyone who has supported any of our events or fundraisers for the Africa Project. Without all your support, there is no way we could be doing what we are doing, and your generosity will have a huge impact in the lives of some people in desperate need of help. You are all amazing.

Until next time,