I’m delighted to report that the Goodwill Tour – in a nutshell, a local school’s rugby team’s two week tour of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa - is up, on and definitely going to happen.
Delighted hardly describes it. Dorothy Stringer Secondary School is a state funded sports academy. It’s located in Brighton, UK. One of the city’s main schools, it has a large urban catchment area and is attended by children from all walks of life. My sons go there. As a parent, I’ve always felt enormously lucky to have it, literally, on our backdoor. It’s a stimulating and inspirational school.
Given this, the school’s importance vis-a-vis the local community, my own family interest and the fact that I, as a child, was very fortunate to have attended schools for whom sports was important, I approached Grant Lawrence, Head of Sports at Stringers, with the idea for a sponsored tour. This was in 2012. Unfortunately, as an idea, and through no fault of the school, it didn't find traction until this year. It’s called the Goodwill Tour. I've chaired the process, and along with a number of parents, the school and Richard De Jaeger, a South African professional sports development coach, organised the trip for Easter 2015.
Why am I telling you this? Well, first and foremost, it’s special. The tour offers 24 children from a smallish city on the south coast of Britain a once in a childhood opportunity to go to South Africa, play a sport they love and meet young people from both different backgrounds and cultures. It is, like the school itself, a tour designed to stimulate and inspire. It celebrates difference and it looks for everything that is positive about being young, keen and bursting with energy. In short, it’s all about giving young people the permission to dream.
Second, I need to express my gratitude not only to the adults – the coaches and parents – who have made this happen, but also to all the groups and organisations that, like us, recognise the tour as being a wonderful and vital opportunity. So, thanks to the likes of The Big Yellow Storage Company, the Clinton Foundation and Singita, without whom the tour would have been all but impossible.
Third, and from a purely selfish point of view, it is my way of giving something back to the school and the community. It’s an honour to do something, however small, for a community that I – my family - feel very much a part of.