Youth Unlimited Soccer Tour (2003)

soccertour_01During May 2003 a soccer-team from Khayelitsha toured in Germany. Sixteen disadvan-taged youths and a supporting team of six visited Aachen, Cologne, Frankfurt, Freiburg, Kaiserslautern, Nuernberg, Schalke and Stuttgart.

The tour was sponsored by Caritas International and organised by Youth Unlimited, an umbrella programme of CWD (Catholic Welfare and Development) dealing with youth at risk, Ikwezi Lomso, a youth development programme in Khayelitsha and the City of Cape Town. This tour was arranged on the invitation of the DFB (German Soccer Federation).

For months the team prepared themselves both physically and mentally as none of the participants had ever been outside of South Africa or even on an aeroplane. The team practiced hard under the instruction of Sugurs Qinga, the Western Province youth league coach.

The Aachen partnership activists and the scouts of the DPSG (German Scouting Federation St. Georg) as well as Alemannia Aachen as sporting partner had arranged an eventful program for the 16 to 18 year old youngsters when they arrived in Aachen.

soccertour_02On the first evening after their arrival the South African guests explored the Aachen forest with the scouts in an exciting night hike that simultaneously started an action for overcoming the language barriers: a mini dictionary for German – English – Xhosa.

On the second day a reception was held by deputy mayor Sabine Verheyen and there was a happy reunion with the responsible persons of the crew who already met the patron of the partnership at an official delegation journey in March in Khayelitsha.

The soccer team got a very special tour through the ancient city hall dating back to the year 700, where they were allowed to climb the tower. The musical talents among the soccer players could test their gift on the bell organ on top of the tower. Even the deputy mayor said it was a unique event for her as she had never been on “her” city hall tower before!

soccertour_03Following the reception there was a light-hearted tour around Aachen city centre with the mandatory stops at the devils finger in the cathedral door, at the Klenkes monument and at the puppet well – very popular also among the young soccer players. On the weekly market asparagus was bought – a vegetable which is obviously relatively unknown in South Africa since even the organising team did not recognise it.

The invigorated South African group visited the Tivoli, where they were received by Franc Hansen, the Alemannia junior soccer club leader, and Wolfgang Garbe, the youth managing director. A stadium tour and a training match against the A and B-juniors of the Alemannia were on the agenda. The packing duel at the Tivoli ended in a 3:3 draw and even inspired professional co-coach Frank Engel.

soccertour_04The youth spent the evening in the Alemannia Fan-house where African Alemannia professionals George Mbwando and Thierry Bayock met the South Africa soccer players. Around a “braai” (barbeque) – predominantly according to the African style – there were many possibilities for discussions. For the youths it was most interesting to learn how the two Alemannia players had managed to become professional players in Germany and how it influenced them both positively and negatively being so far from their families.

The third day in Aachen was spent on school visits, a training lesson at the climbing wall of the Tivoli rock and a visit of the “three countries corner” (where Germany meets Belgium and the Netherlands). Shortly before dark, all participants met for a nice braai evening at the Youth Hostel Colynshof and gained this special praise from coach Sugars Qinga: “You can feel here in Aachen that many people know our daily life in Khayelitsha because they already experienced it by themselves. Therefore we were received here differently – more naturally – than in other cities. My boys felt really good here with you!“