Diplomats Return from South Africa

Diplomats Return from South Africa

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KHAYELITSHA, South Africa – After two weeks of travel through South Africa, the Franklin & Marshall women's and men's soccer teams have returned from their respective adventures through the Rainbow Nation. The journey marked the first time that F&M President Dan Porterfield made the trip, the first time the women's team traveled to South Africa, and the fourth time that the men's team undertook the excursion.

The Diplomats gathered experiences ranging from zipline courses and twilight safaris to soccer clinics in poverty-stricken townships and a 10th anniversary celebration at the Chris Campbell Memorial Field in Khayelitsha, Site B, Cape Town.

Photos from the trip are still being added and can be viewed here. An account of the women's team and their experience can be read here courtesy of Meghan Byrne '19 and Lauren Kranis '19, while Robert Maze '20 provided a glimpse of the men's team's experience here.

The women's team arrived on Monday, May 15 and returned on Saturday, May 27. The men's team followed four days behind, arriving at each location just after the women's team departed, landing on Thursday, May 19 and returning on Tuesday, May 30.

Stop One: Storms River Rest Camp

Nestled in the Garden Route State Park, the Storms River Rest Camp was the first site to act as home base for both teams. Located near Tsitsikamma in the Eastern Cape, the rest camp lies in a rural area on the country's southern coast. The scenic rural tract that leads from the Eastern Cape to Cape Town is known as the Garden Route, and gave the Diplomats plenty of opportunities to revel in the region's natural beauty and acclimate to life in South Africa.

Activities included the world's highest bungee bridge at Bloukrans Bridge and an eight-run zipline course at the Tsitsikamma Falls Adventure Park. Both teams played a match in the nearby city of Knysna and visited the Knysna Elephant Sanctuary on the way to their second destination.

Stop Two: Gondwana Game Reserve

Gondwana Game Reserve lies halfway between Tsitsikamma and Cape Town, near Mossel Bay. Both teams spent a night at the reserve, taking in a safari at dusk and another the following morning at sunrise. After a brief 24-hour stay, it was on to Cape Town.

Stop Three: Head South Lodge

Head South Lodge is located in the Green Point neighborhood of Cape Town, near the waterfront. Matches for both teams provided a competitive edge to the stay at Head South, and a combined dinner with both teams present marked the first time the squads met up during the journey. The teams also took in several of the tourist attractions in Cape Town, including a trip out the Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years during the Apartheid era.

However, the highlight of this period was the 10th anniversary celebration of the CTC10 Foundation and its creation of the Chris Campbell Memorial Field in Khayelitsha. The teams came together at the CCMF along with F&M President Dan Porterfield, who was traveling with the men's team, to learn about CTC10's partner Amandla and the day-to-day programming at the field. As part of the 10-year festivities, Dr. Porterfield announced a $25,000 gift to CTC10 to continue the foundation's work in South Africa. 

To learn more about CTC10 and the Chris Campbell Memorial Field, click here.

Stop Four: Chartfield Guest Lodge

Upon the departure of the women's team, the men's team moved south in Cape Town to the neighborhood of Kalk Bay, staying at the Chartfield Guest Lodge. In addition to climbing Cape Town's famed Table Mountain, the team also participated in the Crime Prevention League at the field beginning during the night of May 26 and ending in the early morning of May 27.

However, this final leg of the journey provided a new segment as the men's team began to build a relationship with an organization called Ubuntu. Ubuntu, located near Kalk Bay, focuses on giving talented South African soccer players the academic and athletic training necessary to gain admission to colleges and universities in the United States. F&M soccer alumnus Jeremey Levine '17 stayed behind at the end of the trip to begin working with Ubuntu in the coming months.