Duke of York's Royal Military School

Successful South African Summer Tour

Published on isbi School News dated Thursday 12th of September 2013

In July, a group of 18 hockey players from Oundle School took part in a hockey tour of South Africa, travelling from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth before returning to Cape Town along the Garden Route.
During the trip, the team played 7 matches against some of the top schools in South Africa as well as taking in some of the splendid opportunities on offer in this amazing country and undertaking community work in a local township.
After landing in Johannesburg on Day 1, the group headed off to the Apartheid museum which was a fascinating and sobering experience raising awareness of the South African history and culture. After lunching in Pretoria, they moved on to the impressive Pretoria Boys High School where they played their first match, blown away by Pretoria's sporting prowess
Pupil player James Adams (17) commented, 'In what was a hard-fought game Oundle lost 4-2 to Pretoria. The game was played in 3 thirds of 25 minutes which, combined with an 11 hour plane journey, an hour bus journey and playing at high altitude in very hot conditions, made the game a very tough test for our new, relatively inexperienced side.'
After the game and exchanging gifts the players moved on to the impressive High Performance Centre where they were spending two nights and enjoyed a few games of beach volleyball to wind down.
On Day 2 the boys spent the morning at the astroturf at the High Performance Centre where they had a session with a warm up 'specialist' who put them through a simple warm up which felt like extreme fitness for many of them given the high altitude. This was followed by further coaching sessions, a match against St Albans High School and a volleyball tournament.
On Day 3 the group travelled to Port Elizabeth for their third match in three days. After landing, they headed to Grey High School where they were hosted for two nights and played a very strong side.
The boys spent their fourth day at Grey High School enjoying a regular day at school. They then travelled to Sea View Lion Reserve, stopping off at a view point where they could see some
whales out at sea. At the Reserve, they saw lions, tigers, meerkats, panthers, warthogs and were able to cuddle Ice and Igor, the cub snow tiger and lion.
On Saturday, after watching Greys 1st team play against their great rivals, York High - the equivalent of Eton vs. Harrow the group travelled to Kariaga Safari Park - an 8,000
hectare park home to the 'Big Five' - Lions, Elephants, Rhino, Buffalo, and Hippo. Taking a three hour dusk tour of the park the group got very lucky and managed to see elephant, rhino, waterbuck and kudu and before the day was done they had a close view of a pair of lions who trapped the vehicle and walked right up to the car!
Archie Edgar (16) commented, 'On Sunday (day six) we had an early wake up as we were going
on an early morning tour of the game reserve. One group managed to spot some rhinos while the others found buffalo and zebras.'
On Day 7, the group headed down towards Cape Town, stopping off at Cango caves and for ostrich riding on an ostrich farm, where they were also shown ostrich eggs and the newly hatched babies.
David Bolle-Jones (17) commented, 'Oscar Rice (17) was the best rider managing to stay on for more than 30 seconds. The tour concluded with an ostrich burger to complete the full experience!'
On Tuesday (day 8), the group drove along the coast to search for whales at Hermanus, one of the best places in the world for whale watching.; they were lucky enough to spot two Southern whales very near to the coast - a mother and her calf.
Pupils were hosted by families from Paarl Gimnasium where they played hockey and saw a very different side of South Africa.
James Adams (17) commented, 'We were given a tour of Mbekweni Township from a teacher and community leader who had grown up there. On this tour, we stopped off at a new sports centre where an Oundle cricket coach from South Africa had helped to set up 3 cricket nets for the community, with the support of Sidney and Grafton boarding houses at Oundle School. We saw a range of housing from permanent structures which had been built through government schemes to semi-permanent structures with no amenities. We visited kitchens and a community primary schools where we gave the children, all of whom had never picked up a hockey stick, a short but very rewarding coaching session. After this session, we gave the school all of our old sticks and balls so that they could continue to enjoy playing hockey, and a donation which will fund a culture trip for the pupils to Durban. We hope to continue to support the development of hockey at this school.'
On their last full day of the tour, the boys headed to a market on the coast where they took a boat tour to find some seals, and then travelled down the peninsula south of Cape Town visiting Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope and a local penguin park.
James concluded, 'Our hockey tour to South Africa may not have appeared to be a success in terms of match victory, but playing against some of the best schoolboy teams in South Africa -possibly in the world - with a young and inexperienced squad we were able to compete consistently, despite what some of the score lines might suggest. A 4-0 defeat to Rhondebosch may not seem like much; but when you consider that they are ranked as the second best team in South Africa it can actually be seen as a superb effort and our best performance on tour. From a hockey point of view, we will not get such an opportunity again. Playing on incredible water based Astros every game, including an exact replica of the London Olympic pitch at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria, was very special. Added to this, our hockey has undoubtedly
improved and we should certainly benefit from this when the hockey season comes round in the New Year.
But it was not just our hockey that benefited from the trip. We were granted the pleasure of staying with host families from Grey High School, Paarl Gim and Rhondebosch; all of whom were both kind and welcoming and gave us a real taste of South African life.
Of course, we were also given the opportunity to see some of the great sights that makes South Africa such a special country. Though we were not able to enjoy all the beauty of Table Mountain due to low lying cloud, we were able to enjoy a vast array of other sights. The Kariega Game Reserve was a great experience as we saw four of the 'Big Five' and the view to be seen at Cape Point was particularly memorable.
The combination of these incredible sights, hospitality from our hosts, and most importantly the superb standard of hockey made the boys hockey tour to South Africa a definite success.'

Successful South African Summer Tour - Photo 1
Grace Education
Hazelwood School