The Monogram Club's Reggie Brooks '93 (football) will be spending a week in Arusha, Tanzania, teaching the game of football through the organization, Global Football, Inc. The trip is being coordinated by former Irish quarterback Pat Steenberge '73. Check in daily for Reggie's thoughts on the clinics, aspects of African culture, and more.

Wednesday May 25, 2011

This will be my last entry regarding my trip to Tanzania. I am back on U.S. soil and it is great to be home with family and friends. I reflect back on my visit to the country of Tanzania and the city of Arusha and I'm humbled and grateful for what God has blessed me to witness. Not only was I a part of the first ever American football game on African soil, but I encountered and was befriended by some of the most genuine and gracious people I have ever met in my life.

As a group, Global Football brought excitement and interest in a new game to Tanzania, but Tanzania had a far greater impact on the lives of the groups from Drake University and TEAM CONADEIP (the Mexican All-Stars) that came to the beautiful country. Amid the poverty and substandard living conditions (by American standards), I witnessed something that is indescribable. I saw the true Spirit that binds all faith together. I witnessed the power of love and how it changes and uplifts those that get to experience it uninhibited.

From my time at the orphanage to the multiple football clinics, the genuine delight the children showed at our presence was truly overwhelming. I participated in this event mainly to get the opportunity to travel to a foreign country and experience a new culture. I came away with the firm understanding that no matter the difference of location, no matter the persons involved, we are all a part of the human culture. When we allow ourselves to truly live in the moment, our differences are miniscule.

We are all human beings and we are all children of the Most High God who made us to love one another. For some, these words may mean nothing, but for those of us who have been touched by a situation or experience in our lives, these words will truly resonate in your spirit.

Saturday May 21, 2011

Day 6 Photo Gallery

Reggie with the United States Ambassador to Tanzania

It's game day in Arusha, Tanzania and I am ready for some football. The Kilimanjaro Bowl, featuring Drake University and TEAM CONADEIP, was played today and it was a historic event. The game made history by being the first ever American football game played on the continent of Africa.

Congratulations to Patrick Steenberge '73 (football) of Global Football, Inc. for sponsoring an outstanding trip and bringing together three different cultures in one event. The game went pretty much as I expected. Early on there was sloppy play and several penalties by the Mexican team. Drake was unable to take advantage of the mistakes by the Mexican team and led by only three points at halftime. Team CONADEIP, the Mexican All-Star team, got things going in the second half running the football. They started the fourth quarter with a touchdown by senior running back Jose Reyes and took a 7-3 lead.

Fortunately for Drake, the poor special teams play and rash of penalties continued to haunt the Mexican team. The third-string quarterback for Drake - freshman Nick Ens - came in to spark the offense and lead them to 14 unanswered points. The game essentially ended on an interception by a Drake defender. Final score was 17-7, Drake University Bulldogs.

The game had several dignitaries in attendance, including the U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania and the Mexican Ambassador to Kenya. The 1,000+ children from the football clinics were in attendance as well and were each provided with an American football from the two teams.

Friday May 20, 2011

Day 5 Photo Gallery

Reggie shares a laugh with an Arusha teenager.

Greetings from the beautiful land of Tanzania! I enjoyed a full day today from morning to evening. We traveled to the TGT complex for practice and this was the first morning it did not rain. It was nice to have a dry morning but the heat was pretty intense with the sun beating down on you. I thank God for the occasional cloud cover during the practice.

I spent today watching the Mexican National Team practice and these guys looked pretty good. The Mexican team is quite talented but they are trying to mesh a team together from various schools which is never easy. After watching both teams practice (saw Drake yesterday), I feel the game will be fairly evenly matched. Special teams and turnovers will be the deciding factor in which team comes out victorious.

Once again, we had a great turnout for the football clinic. There were over 500 kids that showed up for today. I had the pleasure of meeting several high profile Tanzanian citizens today, including the chief of police (I mentioned before we receive a police escort to and from practice), the director of the National Sports Council and his staff, as well as several heads of schools from which the clinic participants came.

After the clinic, we enjoyed a good lunch and headed off to the various service project destinations. I was fortunate enough to have overcome my stomach issues today to join a group of Drake players in helping paint at an orphanage. The Faraja Orphanage Centre is located in Arusha, Tanzania and was founded by an orphan. It's in very poor shape and doesn't have sponsorship so a few individuals are supporting around twenty or so orphans. They were so grateful to see the players and the food we brought.

Although things looked tough, the kids were in such good spirits, and really had fun while we were there. They were genuinely happy to see us and the joy they expressed was so uplifting. This trip has truly been a life-altering experience and one I will treasure for the rest of my life. I have learned true joy and happiness comes from within and serves as a universal language, much like music and sports.

Thursday May 19, 2011

Day 4 Photo Gallery

Reggie provides some instruction to local schoolchildren

Hello once again from East Africa! Today was the first day of practice for both teams as well as the first American football clinic. We received a police escort to the practice facilities and several high-profile Tanzanians were at practice.

Patrick has put together quite an event thus far. The local media ate it up. It rained all morning and the fields are a mess. I spent today watching the Drake Bulldogs and I will spend tomorrow watching CONADEIP, the Mexican National Team. The practice started off well but the Drake players did not stretch well enough and had three guys added to the injured list with muscle strains. For the most part the practice went well considering the teams didn't arrive until 11:00 p.m. and had to be up by 6:45 a.m. after two eight-hour flights. Guys were losing their footing quite a bit but they managed to pull things together by the end of practice.

The best part of the day came when 500 children from various schools and age groups came for the football clinic. The coaches and players from the two teams worked with the boys and girls on some basic drills and afterwards we had the kids play some games. There were quite a few kids that looked like really good athletes (I thought about doing a little recruiting for ND, but thought better of it)! It was impressive to see these college players from two different countries working together to teach the game of football to kids, some of whom have never seen American football.

I'm hoping to visit a few schools or the hospital tomorrow as I ate something last night that didn't agree with me and had to return to the hotel. I learned being adventurous should not include the food....LOL! I hope you enjoy the new pics, but to really get a feel for how awesome this place is requires a visit.

I must thank Drake's running backs coach Bill Charles. Not only did he let me talk with his players, but he brought some mini Snickers...a true staple of any good diet.

Wednesday May 18, 2011

Day 3 Photo Gallery

Reggie got up close and personal with some elephants on the safari.

I got up this morning at 6:45 a.m. to go on safari at Tarangire National Park. I couldn't understand the need to get up that early until we got was a two-hour drive on a one-lane highway. It was raining so the cool air helped considering there is no air conditioning in the jeep.

I was once again struck by the congestion and poor live facilities in Arusha. The thing I am starting to realize is although the people are poor, there is a rich culture and determined spirit. I am truly blessed to be here.

Ok, back to the safari trip. We travel out of the city and we pass the Arusha airport, which consists of one airstrip and several metal buildings. After passing the airport, we came across a prison with no walls - just some weird metal fencing. As we travelled further into the country or bush - which ever you prefer - we came to Masai lands. On both sides of the highway there were corn fields and mud huts. There were cows, goats, sheep and donkeys being herded the entire ride. If our driver was not driving so fast I would have gotten photos, but he was gunning it the whole way!

Once we arrived at the Tarangire I realized I was detail-less - not a good thing on a safari. I have to give a big shout out to Val Lamanna and Matty Richardson, Drake University's trainer, for aiding an ill-prepared tourist.

The landscape was absolutely fabulous and the animals were exquisite. We encountered giraffes, warthogs, impalas, ostrich, zebras, hartebeest and gazelles. I found out that a dominant male gazelle will have up to fifteen female mates and the weaker ones are completely left out. I don't know about you, but living with fifteen females at one time sounds like a handful! It's hard enough dealing with one...just kidding Honey.

By far the most thrilling part of the trip for me was the elephants. We got to see them up close and personal - like ten feet away from our jeep - and man, they are MASSIVE animals.

Enjoy the latest pics from Tanzania.

Tuesday May 17, 2011

Day 2 Photo Gallery

Reggie with a local Arusha student.

My first full day in Arusha, Tanzania was incredible. After breakfast about 15 people from the administrative group took a guided walk around town. At first I was asking myself why we would need a guide to just walk around -- little did I know Arusha is crazy busy. It would be very easy to get lost or hit by a vehicle of some kind. They drive on the left side of the street, like in Europe, and they only have two stop lights in the entire city.

With the help Jennie Phillips from Notre Dame RecSports, I avoided getting run over a few times during the trip. We walked around and everywhere you turned someone was trying to sell you something. The nice thing about it was they weren't pushy about it, but there were quite a few of them. They would talk you up a few blocks before moving on to the next person. I must say they were very friendly and polite.

The most overwhelming part of the walk was the market. The volume of people and the variety of things they sold was incredible - and sorry the Monogram Club's Beth Hunter, but I couldn't find any rattlesnakes!

The simplicity of life and tough conditions can bring one to tears. There is no way to do it justice with words or pictures. The poverty is very impactful and sobering. It is hard to comprehend the conditions in which the people live on a daily basis. Despite all of that, the people were friendly and they made us feel very welcome.

After we returned to the hotel we ventured to the countryside where the two teams we'll be mentoring -- Drake University & Team CONADEIP from Mexico -- would hold their practices. It was such a stark contrast to the city. We traveled about an hour out of the city to TGT where we passed fields of coffee, corn and beans. The complex housed a day spa and three fields for rugby & cricket. It also had a nice view of the mountain which the teams plan on climbing after the game. It's beyond me why anyone would want to climb a mountain, let alone one that starts with Kill-A-Man (Mount Kilimanjaro)! We enjoyed a very nice lunch at TGT and set off for the Tanzanian Cultural Heritage Art Gallery.

All I will say is enjoy the pictures! Several pieces of art were sculpted from a single piece of ivory wood.

Monday May 16, 2011

After 17 hours on an airplane I have finally arrived in Tanzania. I have not had the chance to really see anything because after leaving Chicago at 1:45 pm on Sunday, May 15th I arrived in Tanzania at 9:00 pm on Monday, May 16. My three hour layover in Detroit was uneventful - or so I thought (I will let you know about that in a minute).

I did however enjoy both the flight from Detroit to Amsterdam and the flight from Amsterdam to Tanzania. Upon arriving at Kilimanjaro International Airport I purchased a travel visa and found out my luggage never made the flight from Detroit. We spent an hour driving to the hotel (The Arusha Hotel) and there is no lighting on the road. So I only have a few updates for you today/tonight because my internal clock is shot. I'll have more tomorrow!

*I must give props to Patrick Steenberge and Global Football because the hotel is really nice*

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