College Football

Carter’s Corner: Gators Lend Helping Hand in South Africa, Langford’s Special Mother’s Day

Carter's Corner: Gators Lend Helping Hand in South Africa, Langford's Special Mother's Day

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The part of Cape Town known as Lavender Hill is gang-infested, disadvantaged and dangerous for kids who call it home.

Drugs are prevalent, and it’s not unusual to hear gunfire in the poor neighborhoods that dot the area. Still, many of those who live in the community, commonly referred to as “apartheid’s dumping ground,” envision a brighter future for one of Cape Town’s most troubled sections.

More than a dozen members of UF’s football spent last week in South Africa as part of a service trip via the GatorMade program. Part of the group’s mission was to help build a water system and other infrastructure at a Lavender Hill youth center that serves as a safe space for kids in the region to play sports and participate in various activities.


Gators linebacker Derek Wingo was part of the UF contingent that made the trip, which if marked by a straight line, is nearly an 8,000-mile flight from the UF campus.

Still recovering from the return flight home, Wingo said Wednesday the journey opened his eyes wider to how fortunate he and his teammates are to call the U.S. home. Wingo said the kids they met don’t have anything close to the quality of life he had growing up.

“They honestly want a better life, they want to do good,” Wingo said. “We realized that by hanging around them and talking with them. They don’t want to be involved in the negativity down there and some of the violence, and sometimes it’s just how they’re born. They wish so bad that they had the opportunity to have a better life.

“We played soccer with them, we played basketball, played tag and stuff like that. It was super cool to be able to feed off their energy but also to teach them some things and spend time with them. It not only helped them, it helped us.”

An organization named Rise Above Development is building a youth center, sports facility and community garden in the heart of Lavender Hill, with plans to eventually include a music studio, computer lab, library, internet café and outdoor theatre.

The Gators’ trip drew the attention of Cape Town Etc., a magazine and website that covers the city. Cape Town continues to transition from its apartheid era, which legally ended in 1994.


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