Forty-four players, boys and girls, bus loaded, destination unknown! It was with excitement and trepidation that our boys’ and girls’ hockey teams set off deep into the heart of the Karoo. After 4 hours on the road, we took the final turn, the passengers becoming quieter and quieter as the dirt road we now found ourselves on stretched away into the distance. The sun was setting and there was no sign of life, except for the odd herd of angora goats that did not pay us much attention, little did we know we were to see many more of these quirky creatures.
Finally the light in the distance proved to be Rietbron; turning off the main road we knew we had reached our destination when the road that we travelled was covered by an enormous marquee tent.
After a cosy night in the local hostel, we were warmly welcomed to a very cold Rietbron Primary School Hockey Festival and Angora Goat Youth Show. Early matches warmed us up as we settled into enjoying our new environment. The way in which the Oakhill children adapted to their new environment amazed even those of us who already know how amazing they are! It was then time to gather for a brief explanation of things to come – how to gather a goat by the horns, with all students participating in a goat handling, goat counting and mohair grading competition. When the dust finally settled, Gabi Cox had won the goat handling competition, with Michaela Cross second. Matthew Williams won the goat counting competition and Jess Gebhard the mohair grading competition. The boys and girls also played great hockey proving to be very competitive on a difficult surface. After the auction that evening, our players danced the night away. Finally, all was quiet, as ghosts and insects were evicted from the dorms! Saturday saw us playing some good hockey with the B teams getting much needed time in the middle. Our students jumped at the opportunity to participate in some horse riding and a number of our girls were spotted galloping down the main street! The evening ended with some more dancing and finally to bed after a busy, boisterous day. Another cold start, but warmed by a cup of coffee and delicious homemade rusks saw us bid farewell to the little town of Rietbron, which in three days had become a home away from home. Bags loaded with kudu biltong and mohair products were heading on home!
The ability of our students to adapt so quickly and confidently to a strange environment and for the host Head to comment on how well behaved they were, is surely a testament to our students as well as to Oakhill School.