"I think I speak for everyone on the trip that the South Africa Tour 2023 will be one of our school memories that will live forever!" Sahara (U6)
South Africa Sports Tour
On 17th July 2023, 50 students and 8 members of staff embarked on an exciting adventure to South Africa. Before their departure the group lined up on the Big School steps, where exactly 21 years ago to the date 79 students and 13 members of staff stood as they were ready to set off on WGS' first South Africa Tour in 20o2.
Tour leader, Mr Clancy, shared his account of the trip:
Embarking on a 5640-mile trip across the world with 50 students was, on paper, going to be a challenging but enjoyable trip. Not since 2003 had WGS ventured as far as South Africa for a sports tour but little did I, or any of the tour staff know that it was in fact going to be one of the most memorable and thoroughly rewarding experiences of our teaching careers. South Africa welcomed us with open arms and the hospitality and warmth shown by those we encountered endeared the tour party to the ‘Safa’ charm. The sporting encounters were competitive, hard-fought, evenly matched and most importantly, fantastic fun! The boys’ footballers competed excellently, winning and losing some tight, well-fought games. On the netball and hockey front, both sides won the majority of their games and we were truly thankful to the schools who hosted us for their generous and kind-hearted welcome.
Accompanying the sport was a rich tapestry of South African culture and the tour group took in many memorable sites; Robben Island opened the eyes of the students and reminded them of the sacrifice Nelson Mandela made in fighting for equality; Table Mountain provided awestriking views and a reminder of how powerful Mother Nature can be, whilst the V&A Waterfront enabled students to shop, eat and socialise in a safe but scenic environment at the foot of Table Mountain. All was culturally enriching, but a highlight for many was the visit to Langa Township, one of South Africa’s oldest townships. The students toured round and saw a different side to what living in South Africa can be, as well as undertaking some coaching with local school children. Many of the tour group wished they were able to spend longer with the local children, and look back fondly on the experience as one of the real highlights of the trip.
And all that was before we even encountered our first lion! Heading north to Johannesburg and Bela Bela, navigating the stricken Mr Jones who fell afoul of a sickness bug, the tour group headed out on safari. Tasting the unique luxury of the African bushveld at Mabula Game lodge, the 4x4 vehicles allowed us to get up close and personal with the wonder of the African bush: lions, hippos, elephants, antelope and more, the safari experience was one the students and staff will never forget. Sundowner drinks with the African sunset fading behind us, only metres away from wildlife; memories that cannot ever be taken away.
But, as ever, all good things needed to come to an end and as the tour group visited the Winnie Mabaso Foundation on the final day of the tour, the students saw the impact that their month-long fundraising would have. Handing over a cheque for over £4000 was, for many, their stand-out moment of the trip. Seeing the genuine appreciation in the eyes of the women and children they were supporting was a moment many will never forget.
Two years in the planning, hours and hours spent behind the scenes ensuring everything was as it needed to be, the Sports Department’s first venture outside of Europe for well over a decade was, without a doubt, worth every minute of the preparation and hard work. To the students who attended – thank you! Your behaviour was impeccable and the way you immersed yourself into the trip was a credit to your families. And to my team of staff: Dr Pounder, Mr Jones, Mr Villafrati, Mrs Powell, Mrs Dyer, Miss Jones and Miss Gibbons, all of whom left behind their own families for 12 days to ensure the students had a fantastic time, can I publicly thank you for everything you did. Team South Africa was incredible.
Here’s to the next time, South Africa!
"The mixture of European and African influence in Cape Town was evident when visiting the legislative capital of South Africa. The city was full of vibrant colour and historic landmarks such as Robben Island and Table Mountain.
The city had two extremes of beautiful hotels and schools but also in contrast the cape flats and townships. Exploring Langa, which is the oldest township in Cape Town, was a truly fascinating and educational experience and one I will never forget it." Edward (U6)
"Our 4 days in Johannesburg began with a Safari, where we were brought face-to-face with many animals including lions, giraffes, rhinos, and antelopes. Being able to witness these creatures was an incredible experience, which I am so glad I was able to share with my friends and was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the trip for me.
Our visit to the Winnie Mabaso Foundation on the last day of the tour was one that struck a chord with us all. Being greeted with a dance from the pre-schoolers, playing team building games with some of the local women, and playing with some of the orphaned children was a truly heart-warming experience. Being able to visualise the influence that out efforts, which raised over £4,000 throughout June and July, will have on the lives of many was incredibly rewarding.
Not only did this tour offer us a glimpse into South African culture, but it also brought us closer with other year groups, and solidified the friendships we already had, which made the experience even more unforgettable. I think I speak for everyone on the trip that the South Africa Tour 2023 will be one of our school memories that will live forever!" Sahara (U6)