November 28, 2012

Sorry that it has been so long since I have written. I am sure you are all curious as to what I have been up to. Between studying for exams, saying goodbye to friends, house hunting, moving, preparing for nationals and getting a job time has been a rare commodity.

Today was an unusual day. Our coach works at a school in an underprivileged area of Cape Town. He had the idea to hold a soccer camp for the girls at the school, to show them that there are alternatives to the lifestyle of gangs and violence that are so prevalent in their respective communities.  My soccer team went to the school at ten in the morning. We first visited the grade R’s in their classrooms, they were so excited to have people visiting them. As with any young kids their excitement manifested itself in showing off, they performed their end of year dances and songs for us. It was so adorable. After spending some time with them we went out to meet the girls in grades 3 through 6, they were the ones that we were doing the soccer camp with. They were full of excitement, mostly because they didn’t have to be in class for the rest of the afternoon but also because they had a passion for soccer. They greeted us with a cheerful “good morning ladies.” My coach then made me greet them in Afrikaans, which sent them into a fit of giggles.

The camp consisted of doing drills with them, focused on passing, headers, ball control and dribbling. We were each given a group of girls to work with, mine were quite shy but as the day progressed they became more animated and goofy. We then made five different teams for a miniature world cup, my team was Germany. The girls came up with a war cry that they screamed at the top of their lungs. Unfortunately we lost our first game so we were kicked out of the rest of the tournament.

It didn’t bother them too much. One of my girls told me, “it’s not about winning, it’s about having fun.” Wow what a great attitude for a little six year old to have. By now they had figured out that was from America so they peppered me with questions about America, they were really interested in if I had ever met Selena Gomez or Justin Beiber. They also wanted to know if I walked to South Africa from America. They then told me about their lives and the gangs, I asked them if any of them would ever join a gang and they all responded immediately with no.

After the tournament we talked to them about how sport is a great way to express oneself. They all listened eagerly. It was then time to wrap up and head home. They sent us off with chanting “UCT” and telling us how we could win nationals. I left with a tattoo on my arm “Akeela loves Esther.”

It was a lot of fun. Our team hopes to do it again next season.

That evening we had our practice. Our coach told us that one of the girls has the opportunity to play in a soccer tournament in Durban this weekend and is shy 300 R. She needs to have all the money in order to be able to play. Each of us donated 30 R to give this girl the chance to play the sport that we all love. We are anxiously awaiting to hear back from her to see how she did.

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