We are the champions!

December 17, 2010 5:13 am Published by

We are just back from a 5 day trip to Arusha, where we travelled to take home the gold from an international soccer tournament. We took 28 kids, with me, Rachel, and of course the coach, Ashley. The trip, I can say since we are back now, could not have gone smoother. For the first time in my African life, we did not have a car break down. Mind you, this is a little more than a minor miracle, seeing as we went through both the Serengeti and Ngorongoro National Parks.

The first night of our trip, we camped on the rim of the Ngorongoro crater. Manoj, our travel agent, let us use some of his tents, so we were set. We brought pasta and hot dogs for dinner, cooked over firewood, and watched the sun set over the crater. It was a picture perfect scene, albeit the girls thought they were going to die from the cold. It was good we only stayed one night, becuase the sniffles started the next morning, and we were out of there. We didn’t want our players getting sick.
For the tournament, we stayed at an incredible boarding school, St. Jude’s, which is a school devoted to alleviating poverty. They have incredible facilities, including hot water in the teachers’ rooms and a grass field. They also had an incredible library which was inspiring for all of us.
The tournament started on Saturday, and we only played 2 games. One of the other teams we were slotted to play did not show up, so it was a fairly easy day. We had our challenging points in the game, including myself loosing it with the ref, but our girls were definitely the most fit and practiced team in the tournament. By the end of each game, our girls were ready to keep going, were the opponents were on their knees with exhaustion. We won both games 1-0, one game scored by Neema, and another by Tabu.
The final day, Sunday, we started, and again, the refs were favoring the other team. The team we were playing in the finals were the hosts of the entire tournament. However, after a little half-time talk with the refs and tournament officials at half-time (Ashley did the talking, while I stayed with the girls- my competitive streak came out), the playing field was a little more fair. However, our girls were so bitter after the first half that they came out with a fiery force. They played incredibly, knowing down anyone who came in their path, and we ended up winning the game 1-0, again, Neema’s score leading us to victory.
After the game, there was lunch, some team building exercises with the other teams, and an awards ceremony. Our girls also took home 3 of the 4 personal awards awarded to players. Pili for best goalkeeper, Neema for best defender, and Tabu for best striker. We left the field pretty early, and headed back to St. Jude’s where we rested, packed, and had dinner before an early bedtime.
Monday, we left Arusha around 4AM so as to make it back to Kitongo in one day, and we were all back on campus by 5PM. Again, no car or other issues on the road, just a long day of bumps! We weren’t able to tell the people who stayed back much about the tournament, because they had been following us on the radio, and would constantly hear how the “JBFC Mwanza girls’ team is fierce!” All in all, an incredible trip, and incredible confidence booster for all of our girls. It is amazing to see how the villagers keep coming up and congratulating the players, and how much pride there is in this girls’ team- something extremely rare in this area. Now we are setting our sights on an international tournament with 60 teams from across Africa next August in Nairobi. We have lots to do before then, but we are hoping to be able to bring home the gold there, as well.
Finally, we would like to thank everyone who made our Arusha trip possible. Without your financial support, we would not have been able to make this happen, and all of us in the JBFC family are extremely grateful. Thank You!

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This post was written by Mainsprings