Soccer Tournament at Kick-4-Life

Here are some photographs taken at Monday’s 7-a-side football tournament!

Big Day at Kick-4-Life

This is a bit late, but better late than never!

On Monday our students participated in a full day of activities that introduced them to the work of Kick-4-Life. To introduce them to the day, and to help them understand the deeper issues surrounding the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS. the students were able to witness the stories of some people who have been directly affected by the disease. We quickly learned that in addition to the very concrete reasons that lead to the spread of HIV/AIDS (lack of transportation infrastructure, for example), there are some very serious social issues that contribute to the continuing epidemic. We heard about poverty, about broken families, about the patriarchal system that leads to violence against women, about the issue of multiple simultaneous sexual partners, and about the real social stigma that is still attached to people who are known to have HIV/AIDS.

After the personal stories, students were ready to experience the actual curriculum that Kick-4-Life uses with the kids they work with. The curriculum is delivered in an energetic group context, interspersed with games that teach various important facts. By the time the hour long “classes” are delivered (all on the soccer pitch), the kids know a lot about how HIV is spread, how the human immune system is affected by HIV, and how treatment can help one lead a normal life. At the end, all the participants are invited to participate in HIV testing. The whole morning was extremely engaging, and our students were amazed by the effectiveness of the curriculum that Kick-4-Life has developed.

We spent the rest of the day playing a seven-a-side soccer tournament with teams made up of Pace students and kids who were at Kick-4-Life for the day. Great fun was had by all. Our students commented more than once that the power of football (soccer!) was truly evident to them – it took all of 5 minutes for them to feel connected and at home with the children they had just met that morning.

Needless to say, everyone was exhausted by the end of the day – but not too tired to play a little pick-up game on the 5-a-side turf after dinner!

Kick-4-Life – Sunday

We’ve been keeping busy the last couple of days! We settled into our wonderful rooms at Kick-4-Life on Saturday evening and enjoyed our first meal here after a little bit of a pick-up game on the 5 a side soccer turf. After a good night’s sleep we got up early Sunday morning for a full day of exploring the area surrounding the capital city of Maseru.

Before heading out we had a Sesotho language lesson that helped us get a handle on some of the basic terminology for greeting others. We also had a great introduction to traditional Basotho cultural dress and traditions by Lash – one of our wonderful hosts.

After that we headed out to a mountain of great historical importance – Thaba Bosiu. It is located between the Orange and Caledon Rivers in the Maseru District of Lesotho, 24 km east of the country’s capital Maseru. In the early 19th century, the Basotho chief Moshoeshoe I established a stronghold on the plateau to act as a refuge for his people during a war with the Ndebele people. The plateau’s large area meant it could hold enough livestock and provisions to support the people during a lengthy siege. The mountain also prevented the Boers from overcoming the Basotho people during the Free-State and Basotho wars in the mid-1800’s. The mountain is now the site of King Moshoeshoe I’s grave.

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 11.19.57 AM
Grave of King Moshoeshoe I

In he afternoon we attended a Lesotho Premier League football match between the 2nd and 7th ranked teams – the Bantu and Likhopo teams.

Even though everyone was pretty exhausted from a long day in the sun and a tough hike up the mountain, the kids found the energy to play another pick-up game to end the day on a high note!

The day ended with a perfect sunset…

Looking out over the Kick-4-Life football pitch

In JHB … Onward to Lesotho

It was good to land at Oliver Tambo International after a long, but uneventful, flight! After a very slow line at immigration, we headed to our hotel for dinner and good night of sleep.

Flying over South Africa

Approaching the JHB airport

The team waiting to get on the bus to get to our hotel!

This morning we were able to sleep in a little, have breakfast and do a group meeting. Katie Mahon introduced the tenets of Social Emotional Intelligence as a framework for thinking about leadership.  The tenets are: 1. Self Awareness; 2. Self Management; 3. Social Awareness and 4. Relationship Management. We will be practicing these skills together throughout the trip in order to build a foundation for ethical leadership.

Right now we are waiting for out bus transfer back the airport where we will catch a short flight to Lesotho. We are excited to be able to get to the Kick-4-Life Center, and the kids are really excited about being able to play some five-a-side tonight!!


Taking off to Southern Africa

Nelson Mandela once said “Sports has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.”

This evening, 23 upper school students will take off on a 16 hour flight across the Atlantic headed for Johannesburg, South Africa. The flight is the first step in a journey that will be all about learning and participating in the work of a “Soccer for Social Development” organization called Kick-4-Life.

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 3.06.51 PM
Johannesburg at night

After an overnight stay in Johannesburg, the team will travel to the Kick-4-Life Center based in Maseru, Lesotho’s capital city. The Center will be home for the Pace group for most of the trip. It is also ground central for the social and economic development work done by Kick-4-Life. Their Academy provides a range of opportunities for children and young people of all abilities to work towards a healthy and successful future, with a structured package of care and support combining the chance to play football with health education & life-skills, literacy, mentoring and referrals to key services such re-housing & protection. This long-term, holistic and high impact approach is designed to support participants towards long-term education, training and employment, and the chance to achieve a sustainable livelihood.

Kick-4-Life is a soccer club that fields both a men’s and a women’s team. Their players are central to the work that the organization does. Many of the players are current or past participants, and they serve as health education & life-skills coaches, as well as powerful role models for the development work that Kick-4-Life does across Lesotho.

Map of Lesotho and South Africa

Among other things, Pace students will be trained to deliver activities from the Kick-4-Life health education curriculum, play football matches against local teams, do cultural visits and participate in an adventure trip to the stunning mountain region.

We can wait to get there!

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 2.35.57 PM