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We are three guys from the Isle of Wight that are flying to South Africa to work alongside other football fanatics as part of an organisation known as Lionsraw. South Africa 2010 is the debut Lionsraw Special Project. Lionsraw is taking a 130 strong squad of football fans to Durban, South Africa for two weeks during the World Cup. The Lionsraw team will operate in ‘The Valley of a Thousand Hills'', the epicentre of the World's HIV / AIDS crisis. Alongside existing local charities the team will help in ‘construction projects' and ‘soccer academies' for deprived local children during the day. Each evening the squad will retire to our fanzone for the full world cup tour experience.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Days 8 & 9 building, eating & playing footie

After the frustrations with power and water on Sunday, we were back on track pretty quickly on Monday morning as Geoff and Derek brought us a main fuse, fresh supplies of gangnail plates (for the roof trusses) and washing-up liquid (for the render mix).
























The builders set to work with the rendering and managed to complete the second end wall. Steve and Neil continued work on the steps / patio and confidently decided to branch out with the foundations for a ramp. The labourers set about banging together the remaining roof tresses and fixing them in place. This was quite a challenge without decent scaffolding, but we got a bit of a chain gang working as we shifted blocks around. Phil, Paul and Chris risked life and limb clambering up the blocks to bang in strengthening braces and at the end of our sixth working day on-site we had all the roof trusses fixed in place.



























As soon as we got back to the hotel, we had a very quick shower and then a group of about 30, headed out to the Cargo Hold restaurant. Neil and Debbie organised the meal as a treat Russell and Precious, who hadn’t been out for a meal together for two years. Precious’s mother kindly looked after the children although Russell said that they never sleep unless he or Precious are in the house.
As the name may suggest, the Cargo Hold restaurant is built in the guts of a derelict container ship. This may not sound like the most inspiring setting, but it was wonderful and we all sat next to a huge aquarium containing three menacing-looking sharks. The food was great and although Les felt that his ostrich could have spent longer by the fire, my Dorado fish was wonderful.


Day 9 - Tuesday

Although today was our rest day, a coachload of builders and footballers went back into the Valley to join a feeding programme run by Caroline at Inchanga School. Caroline looks after forty orphans and vulnerable children in the Valley (check out http://trailblazinginsouthafrica.blogspot.com) This morning we helped to give out food and books to more than sixty kids. All the kids queued very politely to receive a sandwich, cake, banana and drink, but it was very clear just how hungry they were as Mike was nearly trampled underfoot when he offered seconds. Once they had eaten, all the kids were given a bag with a tin of beans and a bag of porridge, plus a reading book and football cards.
Some of these kids are homeless and rely heavily on Caroline’s programme. Even within families, there is not much to go around. According to a report in the Durban Daily News today, some farmworkers in the Valley earn just R900 per month. To put this in perspective, it means that they would need to work for one and half days to be able to afford a box of 200 teabags from the local spar shop. Take a couple of moments to work out how long you have to work to afford a box of teabags and then remember this next time you put the kettle on.





With all the talk of football, many of the building teams have been itching to get their boots on. We had our chance this morning in a challenge match organised against a local side at Sithembye. The pitch was built into the side of one of the thousand hills and was actually quite level, although two sides were bordered by very steep drops. Closer inspection revealed that the pitch itself was divided into three separate terrains: there was a wide stretch of dirt and sand down the left wing; a large patch of burnt scrubland and mud around the centre circle and a dense jungle area encroaching the right wing. In fact, I expect that it plays a little like the new turf at Wembley.
The local side proposed thirty-five minutes each way, but with the sun high in the sky, we settled on two games of twenty five minutes each. First off, the team from the HatTrick project in Newcastle represented LionsRaw. The game was tight, with both sides closing space and defending stoutly. There were few chances and at nil-nil it was all set for penalties. Lionsraw edged it 5-4 on penalties thanks to a great save from the Geordie keeper.
With the locals nicely warmed up, the builders took to the field more in hope than expectation. We soaked up some early pressure and then in our first move upfield, Len slid the ball through to Stevie G who smashed home. We worked hard to keep our noses in front, with some solid defending and some acrobatic tumbles from Les ‘the Cat’ in goal. We were proud to maintain Lionsraw’s perfect record on tour and even happier to give away our match shirts at the end.


After the games, we walked up the hill to Russell and Precious’ house where they had organised a barbeque for all the local community. We were treated to traditional zulu dancing and had a great party with the kids from the choir, netball team and football team. Les earned the highest Zulu honour – his very own nickname, ‘Sdudla’. Les likes to think that it means “the wise one”, but we know that it is “the wide one”.



We didn’t get back to Durban in time to watch South Africa’s game from the FanFest on the beach and decided that we didn’t really have time to go to the Nigeria v Korea match in Durban tonight. But, for us, this World Cup is more about participation than spectating and we’re really happy that we played our part this afternoon.


Our challenge tomorrow is to put on the roof insulation, pearling and tin. We’re all hoping that Phil ‘the gaffer’ has dreamt up another inspiring plan, because at first glance it looks pretty much impossible. We have a couple of sections of rickety scaffolding and a few concrete blocks, yet somehow we’ll have to find a way to get the roof fixed on during our last two days.
But, this is Africa, and if the building work has taught us anything in the past ten days, it is the power of faith, perseverance and ingenuity. It may not be orthodox, but necessity is the mother of invention and we’ll always find a way. We have overcome some tricky problems already and I am confident that we’ll be successful tomorrow. Are you listening, Fabio?

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic blog today lad's. And may i just say that Dave Baldwin has taught you all very well. All the friday night training paid off. My super duper heros. No southern softies here! Amazing how hopes and dreams of seeing a world cup can pale into such insignificance, when compared to the rewards of this experience. And something that none of you could have ever imagined doing. Enjoy the next few days :)Proud as punch

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