Lions and line-outs
At the end of July, 66 Perse rugby, netball and hockey players from Year 10, Year 11 and the Lower Sixth departed for a sports tour to South Africa.
Landing at Johannesburg, the tour began with a stay at the impressive High Performance Centre, a national centre of excellence for sport. Tough fixtures in Pretoria gave a taste of the quality of netball and rugby in the region, also in evidence as the teams moved to the Potchefstroom campus of North West University for the next set of matches. Along the way the group visited the Pilanesberg National Park and were fortunate enough to see a pride of lions, one of only ten in the park, and two very rarely-seen creatures – an aardwolf and a black rhino. The clear African night sky afforded excellent opportunities for star gazing too.
A stay at Konka Camp allowed students to play fixtures against local opposition from Rustenberg, before a fascinating cultural excursion to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg and the Voortrekker Monument outside Pretoria.
The second week of the tour was spent in Cape Town, where the players were hosted by the families of their opposition. With fixtures most afternoons, mornings were spent exploring the beautiful coastline around Cape Point, trekking up to the summit of Table Mountain and taking the ferry across to Robben Island to hear first-hand from former inmates incarcerated for their political views.
Head of Sixth Form Richard Morgan noted: “A prevalent feature of a Perse education is the questioning of accepted views – we are always asking students to ask why and to ensure their understanding is generated by asking the right questions. To experience so clear a reminder of an era when such freedoms were suppressed was an eye-opening experience for the whole group.”
The girls took the opportunity to visit the Christel House school in Cape Town. The Perse supports the Christel House foundation, which transforms the lives of impoverished children through education. The girls enjoyed coaching the Christel House students in netball, learning African dance from their peers and taking part in a go-kart race. It was an incredibly humbling experience, as Head of Girls’ Games Laura Broderick explained: “We were all touched by the warmth of our hosts and the appreciation that they have for their education, and it helped students better understand why our fundraising is so important.”
The teams all benefitted from playing some top class opposition and the girls’ hockey 1st team came away delighted with their unbeaten record, winning two matches and drawing the other two. There were hard-fought wins too in both the Senior and Junior rugby XVs and in netball.
To find out more about the tour and its events, visit the tour blog.