‘Players on a Wild Continent’ portrays the lives of African woman athetes, Cedar House Sports Hotel, Truckee | SierraSun.com

‘Players on a Wild Continent’ portrays the lives of African woman athetes, Cedar House Sports Hotel, Truckee

Wendy Lautner
Special to the Sun
Submitted to aedgett@sierrasun.com
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TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Goma, of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is a rough place. Situated on the border of Rwanda, Goma has been without peace since the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 spilled over into the Congo in the form of one million-plus refugees. Since then, two wars have waged in the Congo and an enduring legacy of violence and surprise attacks continue to plague the people, and especially the women, of Goma. The area has been called and#8220;the rape capital of the world,and#8221; with more than 15,000 rapes reported in 2009-10. And, as if this wasn’t bad enough, there’s the ever-smoldering Nyiragongo Volcano threatening to bury the city in a wake of molten lava, like it did in 2002.

But surrounded by all of this uncertain danger there is, of all things, hope in the form of soccer. The Bring Light foundation has chartered a team of women soccer players called the Goma Lady Lions. It’s a chance for young girls to build self-esteem, get their mind off the atrocities of war, and for improved educational opportunities. Truckee writer Nicole Dreon is determined to help.

On Thursday, Feb. 10, the Squaw Valley Institute will host Dreon as she presents images from her and#8220;Players on a Wild Continentand#8221; project at the Cedar House Sports Hotel in Truckee starting at 6:30 p.m. Over a five-month period, Dreon traveled to three African countries and#8212; Kenya, Uganda and the Congo and#8212; in search of the common thread in women athletes around the world.

and#8220;I’ve always seen African women portrayed as really weak by the media, you know, with flies in their eyes,and#8221; said Dreon. and#8220;I wondered, what if you found an athlete, wouldn’t that create a connection, a common thread?and#8221;

For the past decade Dreon has made a career out of interviewing and writing about the world’s most elite extreme athletes for ESPN and the X Games. But Dreon’s natural curiosity, penchant for adventure, and compassion for the African people and the poverty that often defines their lives led her into her most extremely rewarding endeavor.

Her journey to document women athletes on the African continent started in Uganda where she met Amina, a fearless whitewater kayaker who, as a teenager, established a kayak school through which she supports her family. In the slums of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, Dreon discovered an intimate portrait of the strong women boxers who live in the dingy shadows and eke out an existence through nothing more than the willingness to survive.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Dreon traveled to Kenya, where elite running clubs nurture world class marathoners and women runners are expected to be the breadwinners of the family even while raising a handful of children throughout their athletic career.

and#8220;What was unique about the women athletes in Africa was the number of them who had families. Here, in the States, I feel like there’s this feeling among women that is and#8216;what do I have to give up to have a family?’ And in Africa, it is just part of what every woman does,and#8221; Dreon said.

Dreon’s images and stories from her journey give a colorful insight into the lives of these amazing women. She hopes documenting her experiences in Africa as a journalist and re-telling the stories of the women she met will help bolster the effort in the Congo to make a change in the world through women’s soccer.

Make sure to check out and#8220;Players on a Wild Continentand#8221; Thursday, Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Cedar House Sport Hotel, located at 10918 Brockway Road in Truckee. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance at squawvalleyinstitute.org or at the door. To donate online to Bring Light’s Congo Soccer Program, visit bringlight.com.

and#8212; Submitted to aedgett@sierrasun.com