Yes, Drake has a football program for all of those that were unaware, and this tiny DI-FCS program was able achieve something no other football program in the country has. This past week, Drake’s football team took part in the historic Global Kilimanjaro Bowl (against the CONADEIP All-Stars; Mexico), which was the first collegiate American football game played in Africa (Tanzania). Even though many of the native Africans weren’t familiar with either the sport or the rules, it still had a huge turnout. The Drake Bulldogs ended up defeating the CONADEIP All-Stars 17-7.
Not only did the Drake football team travel to Tanzania to participate in this football game, but they also went for a service project along with the players from the CONADEIP All-Stars. During their two week stay (May 17-May 31), the players helped build and repair schools and orphanages around the towns of Moshi and Arusha, and hosted football clinics for the children. They also went on an expedition to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro (only 19,431 ft. high!). David Maxwell, the president of Drake University, described the trip as meaningful in his blog. When one asked him, why make the trip to Africa? An emotional Maxwell responded, “We’re going because almost all of us have never been in Africa, which means we are incomplete as human beings—we are missing an essential part of the human experience that can help make us whole.” The trip’s purpose was to enhance the connection of Drake’s student-athletes with the world around them, giving life a different outlook and purpose.
“We didn’t win a bunch of games to get to the Global Kilimanjaro Bowl. We just busted our butts to get here,” defensive tackle Paddy O’Connell says. “We didn’t ask for anything special. We’re just trying to do something special.”
This trip to Africa was more than just a football game. It allowed the student-athletes to unite and actually learn more about life in Africa, instead of going off what we hear on TV. The economic status, scenery, and family life were nothing similar to what the players were used to states side. It was a life changing trip for many of the players; some of them even changed majors and career aspirations. The interaction with the orphanage children had really opened their eyes and hearts, as they now see the world differently.
The Drake football team’s accomplishments will be unforgettable as they were able to touch many lives. Drake’s head coach, Chris Creighton, called this more of a “calling” than a football game, and I couldn’t agree more. Simply remarkable.
You can read about the outcome of the Kilimanjaro Bowl here.
Here is some history regarding Drake football, you’d be surprised.
Here are some photos from the Drake football team’s life-changing trip.
Here is a blog from Drake University’s President, describing his and the teams’ experiences throughout the trip.
Here are various blog entries from different individual Drake football players.
Photos courtesy of Chris Donahue.