The WhizzKids United Team!
So Saturday saw the start of the tournament! Despite all the other activities during the week, this is what the kids had been looking forward to the most, and the opening was the reason that FIFA had invited us all to Khayelitsha.
We set off in the morning, all dressed in our new bright red WhizzKids United kit, which had been kindly donated by adidas. We were shuffled into our seats to watch the official opening by Sepp Blatter surrounded by a load of VIPS before watching some cultural performances by local kids and a Life Skills demonstration.
We were second on against Team Namibia, but I was whisked off for a pre-match mediation with the first two teams. What an honour to mediate the first game, now I know how referees felt ahead of big games like the World Cup Final!
Each delegation supplied a young leader who had to mediate a game not involving their own teams. Each mediator held a pre match briefing with the two teams to emphasise fair play as there were no referees. Each team then had to decide on basic rules concerning throw ins, kick ins, where you could score from and whether they played corners. Then they decided on their own rules, with the Brazilians deciding to celebrate goals with the opposition! After each game the teams came together again, to discuss the game and to see, based on the game, whether they would award their opposition a fair play point. At the end of the tournament there would be a fair play prize and a winner, with fair play deemed the most important!
After my first mediation which was a fairly painless experience it was a quick dash to watch our WhizzKids who managed to beat Team Namibia 8-1, although this was a false dawn. In the remaining group stages, we drew one, lost four, but won two, including our highlight, a win against Brazil!!!
The team performed well in the group stage, although our kids were alot smaller than alot of the other teams, and while we had picked our teams on the most deserving rather than pure football ability, alot of the others seemed to have gone for the latter! It was definitely a challenge and great to see the kids playing in mixed gender teams. We just needed to ensure they passed to each other a bit more and did not take the losses so personally, but that is common in all kids! At least they followed all the fair play guidelines and made alot of friends both on and off the pitch with Lonwabo from Lamontville the star, scoring undoubtedly what was goal of the tournament; a shot from his own half that cannoned in off the underside of the bar!
In the Quarter Finals we were drawn against Altus sport, who we will be sharing a delegation with for Festival 2010. Unfortunately this was to be our last match, but at least we can take heart from the fat we lost to the eventual winners!
Then it was back to the school, to hold a closing ceremony, allowing the kids to sing and dance with their new found friends, exchange football shirts, hats and items from their own country, before an (early) night!
On Monday it was time to fly back. The kids had an amazing trip and were sad to leave their new rinds but think they were all glad to be going home to see their families and tell their friends about their once in a life time experience!
For the adults it was a chance to go home and get some rest. Let′s now get ready for Festival 2010 next year!