Local Badminton star, Christopher Keane kindly agreed (with just a little pressure) to write an account for the Nuacht Chláir about his recent trip to South Africa. This was certainly an experience and achievement, that must stand out as something extra special. Not many local youngsters would have had such an opportunity, which resulted from many years of hard work and dedication to his sport.
It was Friday, June 9th 2000 and I was in Dublin Airport with seven Teammates and two Coaches. We were setting out for a 12-hour flight to South Africa to participate in a Badminton Competition—The Kerr Cup.
We touched down in Johannesburg early on Saturday morning to the greetings of our opponents who we were going to play next day. We enjoyed a meal together and then were welcomed to their homes as we settled down for a good nights sleep.
The next day we played against Easterns under tough conditions. We were 3000 ft. above sea level and finding breathing a problem. We lost that match 5–3.
We had a break for a few days during which we visited Kruger National Safari Park. We spent four days traveling by Jeep and saw animals like Buffalo, Cheetah, Crocodile and Ostrich in their natural habitat.
It was back to business on the 17th June as we returned to Johannesburg to play Southerns. We won with a convincing 8–0 victory and were getting used to the altitude. Next day we faced our biggest test yet. The South African U19 International Team. It was a hard match and both teams were on top form. The end result was 4–4 and both teams went home happy.
On the 19th we left Johannesburg and arrived in Durban. We coached the young kids who played there and we won our games there 5–3. Thursday 22nd we departed Durban for Cape Town and we settled into the Hotel. The following day we traveled to the Western Cape to play Western Province who we defeated 7–3.
The main event, The Kerr Cup was played on the 25th. It consisted of 7 teams including ourselves. Our first competitive match in the country was against Southerns in The Kerr Cup. We won with ease 7–1. Our second match was not going to be easy. We then played Free State—the winners from the previous year—and were happy with a 4–4 draw. Next was Easterns who had already beaten us earlier in the tour. We got revenge by beating them 5–3. Natal Central District was next on the list. We defeated them convincingly 8–0. Our last two matches were against Natal and Western province, who we defeated 7–1 and 6–2 respectively—we had won The Kerr Cup!