Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rugby Rodeo

It is sports season in this corner of the world. Nearly every day Moshaweng hosts several in-house soccer and netball games, and most weekends involve a sporting event or two at another school. This past weekend I traded a Moshaweng sports day for a much bigger event in the nearby town of Vryburg.

I attended with Kuruman friends whose son plays rugby for die Kalahari Byes (the Kalahari bees). While I expected to see nicer playing facilities at an event in which the generally better-funded town schools participated, I was not at all prepared for the reality of the event.

First of all, it turned out to be a sports day in which 22 schools from all over the North-West and Northern Cape participated. Schools came from as far away as Kimberley and Upington. There were a half-dozen fields on which soccer, rugby and netball were being played simultaneously from nine in the morning well into the afternoon. There was a photo booth, and an enormous food stand where everything from toasted sandwiches to donuts were being sold at an alarming rate. By 10 am they had started to run out of utensils! In any event, the whole production even had a corporate sponsor in the form of the South African grocery chain, Pick n' Pay. This was no village sports day, for sure.

The best part of the day was having a fellow volunteer visit. I don't get to Vryburg too often, so it was a real treat to see a friend from the area, all decked out in her Afrikaaner plaid. (Afrikaaners do seem to share a fondness for a good check pattern, at least near my site.) She commented that the whole event felt very suburban America, and, in many ways, it did. Except that, to me, it felt less like a suburb I lived in, and more like a mix of Texas-Midwest. From the sheer number of trucks in the parking area to the blaring country-ish music on the sound system to the utter seriousness that parents paid to their children's primary school-level athletics, it felt very much like a rodeo in the Dakotas or a football game further south. Really, if a game announcer had said, "The calf roping starts at one o'clock, stay with us!" I would not have been particularly surprised.

Alas, there was no rodeo, just a lot of rugby. While not quite as dangerous as bull-riding, it's not a sport for the the faint of heart. Watching rugby is like watching a car crash. People are getting hurt and you know it, but you can't look away. Luckily there were no major injuries on the field that day, and I escaped with nothing more serious than a very light sunburn. All in all, a great way to spend a Saturday!

That evening brought even more fun, as I played the South African version of Monopoly for the first time. I lost badly in terms of finance, but I ended up owning both Clifton and Franshoek so I was happy. They are basically the SA equivalents of Park Place and the Boardwalk.

Sunday morning brought some time to recover from all the excitement of the weekend, and by evening I was back in Loopeng. I'm so looking forward to my next adventure!

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