May 13, 2011
Drake university football has prided itself for being a trendsetter.
It was the first college football squad that invited Babe Ruth to participate in a scrimmage and the first Iowa school to play in the Rose Bowl. It was also the first school to install lights at its football stadium and the first school to win two games in the same day.
So it's no surprise that the Bulldogs, an FCS team, would add another first to their resume -- the first team to play in a college football game on the continent of Africa.
Drake and a Mexican college all-star team will play on a makeshift football field in a soccer stadium just east of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania on May 21.
The game will be played like a bowl game -- the Kili Bowl -- and tickets will be sold for $2 or 3,000 Tanzanian shillings. According to an article in USA Today, native dancers and acrobats will serve as halftime entertainment and Drake plans to give away 1,000 footballs to the local youth, balls that have been stashed away in the players' luggage.
According to the story, Drake coach Chris Creighton started the idea for the game and Patrick Steenberge, a former Notre Dame quarterback, who now runs Global Football, a company that brings U.S. college football teams to play around the world, helped make it happen. Each player had to raise $4,000 dollars for the trip, but the experience alone will be well worth the cost.
Creighton had worked with Steenberge before while at Wabash College. Those teams played in Austria and Panama.
Drake's 65 players and host of coaches will spend two weeks in Tanzania. During that time, the group will help build an orphanage, conduct youth football clinics, go on a safari and take a five-day hike to the summit of 19,340-foot Mount Kilimanjaro.
Oh, and they'll play the football game.
Sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Graham Watson is a regular contributor to Dr. Saturday. Follow her on Twitter: @Yahoo_Graham