In early 2020 the Dragon cricketers went on tour to Cape Town. This was an amazing experience for the boys and it made a huge impact on them. Pandemic permitting, it is hoped to visit South Africa again with a cricket squad in 2022 and the girls’ hockey team are planning to go on tour to Holland in October 2021.
It was eight years since the last Dragon touring squad touchdown in Cape Town and there was a busy schedule with 7 fixtures including Bishops, SACS, Western Province, Bergvliet and Somerset House.
If you asked any of the tourists what impacted them most during our 10 days in Cape Town, it would undoubtedly be the days making friendships with the children in the Masi township. We had the opportunity of teaming up with Tim Conibear (OD) and founder of the charity ‘Waves for Change’ on Massenburg beach and being involved in its pioneering work providing surf therapy for the township children.
The following reflections are by Gus, captain of the under 13 cricket team:
I had no idea what to expect as we sat on our tour bus, driving down the road from Cape Town heading to the township of Masiphumelele to play Ukhanyo Primary School. As we turned off the main road, I could see immediately that there were lots of very small houses made of sheet metal. There were no trees or greenery just crowded, dirty streets. Thousands of people live here crammed into a very small area.
We were just getting off the bus when an enormous man, nearly seven feet tall, bellowed to get back on so he could talk to us. This was Vince van der Bijl who runs a project to develop a sports programme at Ukhanyo. He told us that the children we were going to meet went to a very different school from ours and had very different lives.
Then we met the local children, divided into two groups and played a couple of matches on their astro. There was not much space, so we played six a side. The Dragons were a bit nervous at first; I think the Ukhanyo children were too, but after only a few minutes we were all having a great laugh.
They say that sport is a language everyone can understand but here we were actually speaking it. We had brought some cricket kit and school shoes for our hosts and were happy to be able to give something to remember us by.