2017 Women's Soccer Trip to South Africa
Day 2 Blog
Glencoe, Ill. / Loyola Academy
Yesterday introduced us to the breath taking views of Cape Town, but today we got to dive deep into the history behind this magical place. Eager for day two, we headed to Robben Island, formerly a maximum security prison used to isolate political prisoners during apartheid.
The first part of our tour took us all the way around the island by bus. One house that stood out was a special imprisonment structure for apartheid opponent Robert Sobukwe. Sobukwe founded the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) political party. On March 21, 1990 PAC, lead by Sobukwe, organized a nationwide protest against the Pass Law. This law required black people to carry a pass book with their picture, religion, and identification details. Police used this pass to restrict citizens to particular regions during apartheid. Sobukwe urged his followers to march to their nearest police station to show their opposition to the law. Police officers panicked and open fired resulting in 69 deaths and Sobukwe's imprisonment. After serving 3 years, officials deemed Sobukwe to be an especially radical and dangerous opponent of apartheid, thus sentencing him to Robben Island. March 21sthas been declared a South African national Human Rights Day in remembrance of Sobukwe's efforts against apartheid.
Robben Island was home to many motivated individuals besides Sobukwe. We learned that 70% of prisoners were highly educated. These brilliant minds were forced to work in the limestone quarry using nothing but their hands and primitive tools to remind them everyday of their punishment. The quarry had a cave intended for the prisoners to escape the sun and eat lunch. They used this to their advantage. Each day a prisoner would prepare a lesson to teach secretly in the cave during lunch. Prisoners learned to read and write using their fingers in the sand. Their slogan was "Each one, teach one" and they ensured that every prisoner left the island with an education worthy of entering university.
After the bus tour, we visited Nelson Mandela's prison cell, where he lived for 18 years, with our guide Zozo. Zozo is an ex-prisoner of Robben Island who gave us a first hand account of daily life on the island. He told us that any letters referencing Mandela were cut up so that they were not comprehensible. He emphasized that although the island once represented isolation, fear, and tragedy, it now symbolizes peace, hope, and forgiveness.
Little did we know the optimistic ending to the tour was just the calm before the storm. Two different boats, 3 hours, and a bunch of white paper bags later, we finally reached the main land. Our preseason pool workouts definitely didn't prepare us for the massive waves and engulfing sea sickness of an average South African sea voyage.
Thankful to be back on land and excited for our first international soccer game, we headed to the University of Cape Town's soccer field. Stepping off the bus, everyone's jaw dropped. Table Top Mountain towered over the field. Trying our best not to get distracted by the incredible surroundings, the whistle blew, and it was game time. Fantastic left footed crosses by Emily Dickens set up our first two goals. Amy Lindberg acted quickly and put them both in the back of the net. A rocket shot from Marley Praprost found the upper right side netting at the end of the second half. Despite the score, UCT continued to battle and kept us shut out for the beginning of the second half. Angelina Batty broke this streak with a driven ball to the lower left corner just out of the goalies reach. Pauline Van Dijck set the final score at 5-0 with a lofted ball 30 yards out that sailed into the goal. After the game we got the opportunity to eat and talk with the UCT players. Their coach handed out awards to players on both teams making everyone laugh. A winning match in an amazing place with a wonderful opponent. Doesn't get much better than that!
Today was extremely impactful because of the insight we gained on the political culture and history of South Africa. With this background, we can fully appreciate and make the most of our trip, which we definitely intend to do!
Tomorrow we are back to the water for surfing lessons during the day, followed by our second game at night. Stay tuned to find out which player is a star both on the field and riding the waves!