Do-goodery: achieved; Mountain Birds outfitted and undefeated

Day before yesterday Craig drove out to Potsdam, which is beyond Mdantsane, past NU-18  where the rural areas meet the township. There, he delivered the equipment we collected and got to watch the Mountain Birds practice.

At practice in Potsdam

Two Mountain Birds at practice in Potsdam

Coach Sandile and his son at practice in Potsdam

Coach Sandile and his son at practice in Potsdam

The Mountain Birds are currently undefeated, and prepping for a match against the second-ranked team later this month.

Mountain Birds in their O'Grady's jerseys

Mountain Birds in their O'Grady's jerseys

Craig reports that the equipment delivery resulted in a rash of “complicated handshakes and hugs”, and he writes, “Thank you again to everyone who had a stake in making this happen. The joy and appreciation witnessed by me on the many faces of this struggling township team just served as a reminder of how important the spirit of giving is…”

Since the equipment packet left Canada, I have received many inquiries about when I will start the next program. The simple answer is: I don’t know.

The Mdantsane Soccer Kit Drive program was unique in a few key ways:

1) Independence: We did this without involving bureaucratic or governing bodies. This allowed us to circumvent some barriers (postal delays, paperwork) but ultimately relied on a unique set of circumstances (i.e. that we had people travelling where we needed to go) that will likely not present themselves again. In other words, this was an extremely successful one-off.

2) Environmental impact:  From the beginning, we were committed to the idea that this program should work to redistribute existing goods. The obvious way around postal/Customs issues is to avoid shipping equipment, but by sending money to be spent in-country only one issue is addressed: that of getting the team their kits. It does not help reduce consumption; it does not redistribute existing usable goods; it does less (in my opinion) to connect communities.

3) Community: This program was a beautiful example of geographically disparate communities connecting through a shared love of soccer (football). Much has been researched and written about the unifying power of sport, and organizations like Right to Play, Girls in the Game, and the Federation of Gay Games, to name a few, promote sport within their communities (international, girls, and LGBT respectively). I wholeheartedly support these initiatives but it is gratifying to see that similar outcomes can be achieved on a more grassroots level. We succeeded here without a budget and without corporate sponsorship. And we connected two very distinct communities on a much more personal level than if it had been through a larger organization. I feel that the Mdantsane Mountain Birds are “my” team. I want them to succeed. And I hope that everyone who contributed to this effort feels the same sense of pride and connection and engagement.

If I can figure out a way to replicate the success of the Kit Drive without having to abandon these ideas, I will.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Do-goodery: achieved; Mountain Birds outfitted and undefeated

  1. Zach

    With the World Cup this summer, I can think of at least 20 people I know who are traveling to South Africa. I’m sure you do, too. This is kind of the definition of “one time opportunity.”

  2. Craiggers

    I will be at World Cup matches in Joburg and Durban at the end of June. Anyone heading to RSA during this timeframe is welcome to make a plan to meet me with equipment. If you’re coming and would like to meet the Mountain Birds, a quick side-trip to the Eastern Cape is relatively inexpensive and I would be happy to host you for free in my home.
    Well done, everyone 🙂
    Cheers,
    Craig

  3. Noelle

    Looking at that team photo, I’m having a bit of mind-melt “I can’t believe there are three African kids on the other side of the world wearing my goalie jerseys!” I seem to be incapable of articulating anything except my wonder and tremendous appreciation. Thank you Keph and Craig for this astonishing opportunity to help and be a part of something much much bigger and more significant than my soccer career could’ve ever hoped to be.

    • ksenett

      Well said, Noelle. You have neatly expressed the exact mix of emotions I have been experiencing around this thing. It’s big and important, and I also feel nothing but gratitude.

  4. Craiggers

    Thanks for the jerseys, Noelle! They’re gorgeous. And how they sparkle under this hot African summer sun 🙂

  5. Pingback: When we talk about soccer, we are talking about family « Personal S.A.

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