Norway Cup diary

Nicki, who works at the Zulufadder office in Eshowe, travelled to Norway with the boys. Read her diary here.

Sunday 21 July

Flight to Durban was very exciting. As the plane increased speed some closed their eyes and put hands over their ears, then silence as they took in the fact that we had left the ground. Even though I gave everyone sweets to unblock their ears, some were still confused about why this was happening. Well behaved when food came out. Got chicken and/or salad rolls and everyone tasted and liked. When one of the boys sweetly asked the attendant for more, she came back with a second roll for everyone. At Johannesburg airport we all sat in the gate lounge and posed from the window in front of our A380 huge plane. Even though I told them they could move around a few gates, everyone sat in one place, I think a little bit in awe of everything.

Monday 22 July

Lufthansa was great. Flight very smooth and everyone ate EVERYTHING given to them. Had to show Lucky how to lock the toilet door so he could explain to the boys as they kept opening. Non stop movies were a great hit, so much so, that at 10:30 when I told everyone to turn off their screens, they somehow kept coming back on.  Lucky had his head under a blanket and Gundy was fast asleep so no help from the 2 coaches with getting the kids to sleep. At 11:45 I got up and physically turned off all the screens and took of their headphones and told them to lala phanzi (lay down).  Sure enough, 15mins later half the screens were back on again. Got up and explained again that they needed to sleep, but another 1/2hrs later and most were back on. Sometime after 2am we got some shut eye, but then at 3:30 we were all woken up to start getting ready for breakfast.  Sithabiso, who was sitting next to me, told me just before he fell asleep that this had been the greatest day of his life.

Frankfurt airport and toilet stop as soon as we came out of the terminal. Found a water fountain but quickly realised that no one knew how to use it. Even though I demonstrated, the boys were putting their whole mouths over the tap part or else pressing the button and causing water to spray their whole faces. Lots of laughs. 

Customs officers were great – even wishing us good luck and asking who were the strikers etc. Flight to Oslo was very energetic. Boys realised they were nearly there. Every 10 mins, I was asked for the time until landing. When we left Germany and crossed the sea, everyone was at the windows looking down at the water for the rest of the trip. At Olso everyone had a South African flag ready to greet Mari. All the boys wanted to push the trolleys like they were go carts. Bus ride into town was a little quieter. Lucky kept asking as we went around another corner if we were nearly in the city yet.

Mari handed out lots of clothing and shoes from Nike on the front lawn of the school and it seemed like Christmas was never ending.  Then Per came along with more clothing and watches. All the boys were shown their rooms then we went to the main hall and had lunch.  Cheeses of different colours and textures were sampled and enjoyed, but not the liver pate!  Table tennis and poole were introduced and co-ordination was bad. However 1hr later and there was definite progress. I found Gundy fast asleep in the tv room whilst all the noise and excitement outside continued.

Tuesday 23 July

Took a bus to Frederickstad and once again, everyone tried to get in the drivers side, forgetting we were on the wrong side.  Drove past an amusement park with roller coaster rides and Gundy explained he went there last time. Everyone gasped and said they wished they could go … little do they know!

Met Frederick and his step son Phillip in town and had McDonalds. Most kids never eaten this before and had to order some chicken burgers as well.  Huge cups of Coke, gobbled down fast, plus chips and a few guys were having pains in their stomachs. Drove to the school and met Lisa and Nicole and settled into rooms. First practice match had all kinds of drills. Running, then stopping with the ball, going in circles, running between cones and if anyone made a mistake then push ups.  Met Charl who gave Siyanda one on one personalised goal keeping skills.  Came back for early dinner, then off to first match.

Opposition team were giants. Mis communication from other school meant they thought we were 14yrs old, so they sent most kids of 15 to play. However Gundy and Lucky were not worried as they had practised against older boys back in Simunye. (I was told we drew 1-1, but actually the opposition scored 4 goals in the first half while I was busy taking photos), so at half time, they told the boys they would start scoring from the second half).  Little Langalakhe scored our first goal and only goal so unofficially it was 1-1, but officially 5-1. After the match we practised extra kicking, then the boys did Zulu dancing and singing. Back at the school we had a tactical de-brief on where to improve.

Wednesday 23 July

First English lessons with Lisa (an Amercian English teacher).  She was concerned that some kids were bored whilst others didn’t know much so had to explain the different areas/schools/teachers they all had. Two new coaches – Lars Christian and Stiaan and more skills learnt.

Per took us to a beachside cottage for lunch.  Weather had been really warm and sunny last few days, but today it was cooler and overcast, however nearly all the boys went in the water.  One found a small starfish on the rock and Gundy tried to pull it off but couldn’t.  S’phiwosenkosi surprised us all with how well he could swim and kept leaving the group to swim out around a boat. His sponsor Kim (Kini??) had come to meet him and she was also in the water.

Beef burgers were offered but Sandile said he couldn’t eat them so chicken hotdogs were grilled. Rest of afternoon the boys placed badmington and bocce and then had icecreams that looked like cakes.

Drove to a soccer field with astro turf. This time the kids were more our size. We could all see the improvements our team had made in just 2 days as their footwork was much better and they were really playing as a team.  Gundy nearly lost his voice from shouting but we drew 1-1 (for real this time).  Langalakhe scored a goal again.  After the match we had penalty shoot outs again and the opposition just won.  A local newspaper was also there and their pictures and report appeared today (Thursday).  More zulu dancing that was supposed to take 5mins but went on for nearly 20, with Sithabiso doing showmanship and walking up to the crowd and jumping in the air and then landing on his bum or flat back.

Back home for a de-brief on the mid-fielders moving up and down more and together in one line. But everyone very happy with the results.

Thursday 24 July

Rain and storms last night and still raining a bit today during practice. Everyone starting to feel a little tired (delayed jetlag). Walked to the old city and no one can get used to the cars stopping for us at pedestrian crossings. We get lots of attention as we walk and people asking what we are here for. Boys were handed out Kodak cameras with 27 photos limit. Each was told to take 2-3 photos per day, but of course by the end of the next day some had already used up their film.  Took a ferry across the river then walked to Peppes Pizza. 

Siyabonga and Gundy were both adamant they don’t each pizza so we told them they could try ours and if they didn’t like it, then we would order something different.  I asked where they had tried pizza before and they said Melmoth and Eshowe so I said this would be so much better. After watching everyone practically in heaven eating their pizzas, they both eventually tried and were converted. Both went back for 3rds and 4th. Gundy wants to open his own pizza shop now. Sithabiso ate so much he fell asleep practically sitting up. Ice creams came and nobody could move afterwards.

We then went to see a Will Smith movie After Earth (or something similar). I decided I could see a movie anytime so went for a walk to digest all the pizza, but the boys said it was scary in a good way. A lady who was outside the movie centre came up to us and said she had read about us in the local paper today, after seeing yesterday’s picture of our match. She gave money for us to buy the boys sweets so they all had little candy bags.

Ferry back and then quick English lesson. Rain and thunder but it cleared as we left. Unfortunately miscommunication and the other team didn’t pitch for the match so we just practised again. It was probably good because everyone was really tired. After dinner we showed Messi’s top 35 goals, then Kristoffer explained that tomorrow we are leaving early to go and watch Barcelona practice. After that, each boy will meet Messi!!!!!! 

I was ready with the camera for a huge response but only a few boys yelled. Not sure if they understand the significance of this.

Friday 26 July

Early start. Up at 06:30 and left the building at 08:15. The boys are doing really well keeping to deadlines, however just about everyone fell asleep on the bus trip back into Oslo. As the sun doesn’t set until around 11pm, it doesn’t matter what time we turn the lights off - the rooms are still not dark until this time, so some of the boys talk until late.

Arrived at Ullevaal stadium to see a queue of people waiting outside the entrance for the arrival of Barcelona. Nike met us and we were ushered to the side and eventually into the stands with the rest of the paying supporters who had come to see Barcelona practice. Good seats close to the pitch so all could see Messi and the team easily.  We watched as they did practice drills and attempted to kick past the keeper, then they played opposing teams. Lot of things to be learnt and the boys soaked it all up. Eventually it was time for them to be taken down onto the sidelines to wait for the team to finish.

TV2 interviewed Sithabiso, S’piwosenkosi and Langalakhe (with the help of Gundy). Suddenly the whole team was walking past them all and they all got quick handshakes or hand touches.  Unfortunately Messi did not stop, but Alexander Song, who was originally from Cameroon, spent about 5mins with them all. He signed the back of their jackets, spoke to each of them and gave Langalakhe a signed pair of soccer boots!.  Awesome.  Big smiles all round but they were a bit subdued. I think they were just in awe and taking it all in.  We told them that out of the whole of Norway, every school and all the people in the stands today, only 15 people were meeting the team, so we hoped the impact would sink in.  I asked Sithabiso if he remembered telling me on the first day on the plane that this was the best day of his life. He said yes, so I said what was now this day.  “Bigger than the best”.

Next it was into a supermarket to buy lunch with Mari then onto a train to Songsvaan with Ruth’s husband.  At one station a very attractive black women got on. She had long legs, a short skirt, long straight hair and impossibly long eyelashes.  Gundy and Lucky suddenly needed to swop seats and pretended to talk to some of our boys when they were not really!!!  I called out to Lucky in Zulu to say I am watching you watch that women and they cracked up laughing. Walked down to the park and sat on the grass and ate sandwiches, then jumped into the lake.  Of course everyone was looking at us and many came up to ask if we were here for the Norway cup. Robert, his wife and son also arrived.

As usual some of the boys charmed the locals and managed to borrow an inflatable fish to jump on. An intrigued local bought the boys icecreams. Lucky and Gundy took this downtime opportunity to fall asleep on the grass. We stayed for a few hours then back onto the train. Everyone took a photo of a very small electric car as we passed by it. After getting back on the train, we couldn’t believe our eyes when the beautiful African lady again got on at one stop. Without missing a beat, ALL the boys went straight up to her and started talking to her. Next thing they all had their cameras out. Ruth and I went up to apologise and make sure she wasn’t being hassled. Quite the opposite – she was friendly, American and even took her camera out to take a pic of her with all the boys. This went on for the next 15mins and Gundy and Lucky could only sit back and watch from a distance. They were not young or cute enough to get away with it. After we got off the train, it seemed this event was almost bigger than meeting Barcelona.

Walked to Forgnerparken and played on the swings and jungle gym. Ruth brought chicken and bread for supper. Again one of the boys, quiet Mpendulo, managed to get one of the kids to lend him his scooter to play on. Next we all managed to catch a tram by ourselves to Vestre Aker Kirke, where a girls South African soccer team competing in the Norway cup was going to sing.  They were part of another NGO and many of the parents had adopted South African children so they came to see & hear both teams. Long introduction but the boys sat quietly. Then the girls (about 15/16yrs) sang Shosholoza so we all joined in from the back of the church. Great singing and spectacular drumming and dancing. After it finished, we were taking photos outside with the South African Ambassador, - Queen Ann, when the girls all came around the corner. The next 30mins was spent talking, flirting, laughing, showing off and dancing with the girls. I think both teams were so happy to be able to see and speak to someone from home.

Finally we caught a tram into town to go to the school we would be staying one night at. Checked in, got mattresses and sleeping bags and then had a quick late dinner around 10:15pm. The boys met lots of other teams and went to the school field to play soccer whilst we made up the beds inside.

Kristoffer arrived with some bad news. There had been a mix up with the Norway Cup and even though they had known our kids ages for several weeks now, we had 5 kids 14yrs or over so that meant if we played 11’s they would be in a much higher grade and we would most likely be massacred. So we decided to stay in a lower grade by playing 7’s instead. We carefully explained this to Gundy and Lucky in the most positive way possible. Fortunately they took it very well and thought it would make our chances of winning easier and give everyone a good chance with rotation.

Saturday 27 July

It turns out S’piwosenkosi injured his ankle walking down the steps at the new school last night so took him to the doctors to get it looked at.  Appears it is just a sprained ankle and should be better soon, but going to re-check again in a few days.  Got crutches so he could move around more easily but Gundy ended up being his taxi for most of the day.

Our luck with the weather ended just as we were about to start a match with the locals, organised by the South African Embassy. Queen Anne arrived just as the heavens broke open and the rain started. Thankfully it was short lived. We played on a small field for 7’s and mixed up our boys with the local Norwegians so it wasn’t the Zulus vs the locals.  side ended up winning 7-1.  The boys made lots of friends and the Norwegian youngsters asked if they could keep them (the boys) or even have their families adopt them.

Lunch was pizza, cake, icecreams and coke!  The boys have now moved into Abildso school so we went back for showers and then off to the main stadium.  Arrived just as the South African girls team from yesterday also arrived so we walked with them onto the field.  An artist was trying to organise a human replica of a famous Norwegian painting “the scream” so everyone had to move into positions and then a helicopter when up in the air to take a photo of us all.

After that we all paraded back to the main stadium. It was great having the SA girls with us as we all sang South African songs and danced and EVERYONE looked at us as we passed by. The Israeli team in front of us also started clapping to Shosholoza!  Vuvuzelas blew and we all had great fun.

What started as a bleak day turned into a hot and sunny afternoon and we all sat and listened to the concert. Sithabiso continues to do his antics in front of any girls he sees and often gets them to take pictures of the team surrounding them.

Left about 8:30pm and caught the bus back to Abildso. Everyone tired but happy.  Because we have changed to 7’s, our schedule has been altered and we still don’t know tomorrow when we will be playing.

Sunday 28 July

Sang at a church this morning at 11:00, then back to Ekeberg Stadium where Zulufadder had a stand. Met ElseCath, Jannicke, Else, Ruth and many more. Sales a bit slow but consistent. Made about 5,000kr. At 1pm the boys performed on the Cultural stage. Unfortunately there were no microphones for their voices and they were at the back of the stage, but the next song with the drumming was much louder and better. Only had time or 2 songs, but they were great.

Had lunch and then prepared for the match. S’phiwosenkosi’s ankle is much better and he doesn’t have to use the crutches. Has it strapped and he can walk on it. Met the opposition team. They are from a very small Norwegian town on the west coast with only about 900 inhabitants. Some of the boys looked like “puddings” as Mari put it – blonde hair, red faces and big tummies, so we were way more fit and agile. Two of the players were girls and one was the goal keeper. Played a great game but missed some kicks at goals. Mthokosizi did several head hits and Sandile Biyela finally came into his own.

Everyone was impressed with how much better he has become and with his confidence, he played a really good game. Langalakhe (Mbazuma) again scored our only goal and we tied 1-1. 

Monday 29 July

Today we were up against a team with a long history of playing soccer and they were very good. We played our best but unfortunately lost 5-0.  Defence did a great job of not letting more goals through and Siyanda also stopped many attempts from the opposition. This was all too much for Sthabiso and there were tears at the end. TV2 was filming so caught our disappointment on tape. Everyone told the guys how good they were and PJ summed it up by saying that it is important to learn how to lose as well as win.

Sandile’s rash is better with some new cream. 3 other boys now have so got them creams as well and re-iterated hygiene proceedures. Decided to cheer up the boys by taking the remaining ones not going to the doctor, to the Science and technology museum.  Came back and went to watch the Capetown girls 11’s play their match as they had come to support us yesterday. Unfortunately they also lost.

A lady & son we met at the park a few days before came especially to see us but was too late for our early morning match and only found us at 4pm. She bought some of the boys cotton candy and popcorn and then stayed with us until 7:30pm. She wants to sponsor Mpendulo.  The boys are quite familiar with the layout of the ground and so often go and talk to girls and sometimes other boys and then come back to our stand. Sales seem to be going quite well.

At 6pm the TV2 filming was shown live to the crowd and our stand was next to the big screen.  Everyone got to see us from the humble beginnings in KZN to the arrival at Oslo, then the opening of presents at the first school and finally today’s match.  The boys loved seeing themselves up on the screen.

Tuesday 30 July

First time rained all day and during the match. Team we played today went against the team we lost to yesterday and they only lost 2-1 so we knew it was going to be tough. Tried really hard but just couldn’t get any goals. Got so close a few times, but the just didn’t want to go in. Siyanda got hit in the throat and had to come off. Sandile Ngema replaced him and let a goal go in straight away. So determined not to let it happen again, he did some great saves after but not enough to help. We lost 4-0.

Were going to go to the beach but the weather was too bad so the boys just went back to the school and rested.  Everyone quite down and Sthabiso especially. Asked Gundy if it was something else or if the boys had a fight but he was just depressed in himself that they hadn’t won.

Went to the SA Embassy for a braai and met the girls from Capetown NORSA again. The Ambassador Queen Anne made a very nice speech to the kids.  Afterwards everyone danced, including all the adults from both teams.  Got sizes from the kids on their family members so we can pack specifically for them in the suitcases.

Wednesday 31 July

Elimination playoffs today. Rain poured down about 30mins before the game during practice and everyone got soaked. However played a valiant game with lots of supporters. Queen Anne came and also Stian. Got the ball up to our end of the field many times, but just couldn’t kick it into the net.  The boys really, really tried hard and Siyanda stopped quite a few attempts to score by the opposition, however finally one got through and we lost 1- 0.  The boys were extremely disappointed, however for Mpendulo, his new sponsor (Latifah and her son Derrick) arrived with some presents. One of the girls from another team Kristoffer new also came with a bike and soon the game was almost forgotten. Mari brought bubbles to blow and once again there was laughter.

Caught a bus to the town hall where Nelson Mandela received his Nobel Peace prize. Lots of food came out, but the boys were very well behaved and everyone had seconds.  Dancing followed first with a team from a Kenya, then the girls from Wellington and finally our boys.

Thursday 1 July

Went to the Oslo Summerpark with Trini and Hege. Mari also had a magazine shoot. Met Michael who gave us a 30min instruction lesson with practice on how to clip in and out on all the activities. Everyone passed the first three stages, but Trini and Mthokosizi Khumalo decided it was not for them and they became specatators with Mari. Half the kids when on the beginners level and the other half went on the higher, harder level (including Nicki and Hege).  Then Gundy, Mthokosizi, Spi and Sandile B attempted the 2 was unbelievable and Sandile bowed out and took the ladder down, but the other 3 boys continued.  Everyone had great fun. 

Hot dogs followed and then we all took a chairlift ride down the mountain and back up again. You could see all the BMX riders on their bikes, snaking down the hill.

Next it was into town for a quick fuel up with drinks and chocolate, then we went to Mari’s yoga class.  The heater were turned up to nearly 40 degrees and we all took out mats and started stretches. Kristoffer and PJ joined us. It was tough work but everyone made it through and did every pose very well. Then we caught a train home with just the South Africans and were met at the train stop by Mari, Robert and Hege who then drove the short distance home.  Too many kids to do the whole trip as cars were overcrowded, but fine for just a few kms. Went and bought the boys dinner and took it back to their rooms. Everyone very tired.

Friday 2 AUGUST

Big day out.  Robert drove all the boys to the nearest train station where they caught the train by themselves into town.  Nicki and Mari met them at Central Station and we then went to Tusenfryd by bus. Hege, Linn-Hege and their friends met us at the entrance but before we went in, PJ came to say goodbye. Onto the first big ride which was a huge swinging pendulum. Some of the smaller kids could not go on because of height restrictions and also they were afraid. S’phiwosenkosi came off the ride thumping his chest. After Gundy asked if he was ok, he said he was checking if he was still alive as he thought he had died!

Progressively went on bigger and faster rides.  Some of the smaller kids stuck to the less thrilling rides and everyone loved the dodgem cars. Gundy was an adrelanine junkie and went on everything scary at least twice, then went off on his own to do more again.  Even Nicki managed the Speed Monster!

 Attempts to leave the park failed twice, but finally got everyone back on a bus to Central Station and then bus again to the stadium for dinner.  However once they arrived at the Zulufadder stall, all the boys put their heads between their knees to sleep for 10mins.  Once powered up again, it was off to dinner then back to the school to bed.

Saturday 3 August

A little bit of a sleep in and then Kristoffer arrived to take the boys to play a friendly match against the Wellington girls. The boys won, but only just.  Then we caught a bus to Toppen Bech’s home in the country where she was hosting a braai with her Kenyan girl soccer team.  Lots of food and plenty of gardens to play in. Stayed there most of the afternoon.  The boys are now quite relaxed and starting to look forward to going home.  More clothing was handed out from Nike again.

 

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