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Alumni View on the Fifa World Cup 2010 in South Africa (2)

Ke Nako - This time for Africa! / by Dayana Dreke

2010-07 WC1

Colourful country flags and sonorous vuvuzelas, sunshine and blue winter sky, new streets, hotels and safe public places, as well as an impressive new stadium and a fanzone full of excited people from all over the world. Wamkelekile iKapa (Welcome to Cape Town)! How lucky were we to experience the first FIFA World Cup on African soil in one, if not the most beautiful city in the world!

Despite negative international headlines beforehand, South Africa succeeded in proving all skeptics it´s ability to host one of the world´s biggest sports events. Cape Town even presented itself as an environmentally consicious World Cup host with its ´Green Goal Campaign´, from energy-efficient technologies for the new stadium, new CO2 reducing shuttle busses to the introduction of a recycling systems for all public bins in the central city.

But visitors will especially remember South African´s hospitality as the lived practice of the traditional African philosophy of ´Ubuntu´, which means humanity based on interconnectedness („I am because we are"). Accordingly, Desmond Tutu, Archbishop and nobel prize winner, welcomed fans from all over the world with the words: „Africa is the cradle of humankind, so we welcome you all back home!"

2010-07 WC2

And even though Bafana Bafana did not get far, South Africa was still the proud winner as the host country for the World Cup. The media kept up the fantastic vibe of „Feel it, it is here" even after Ghana was kicked out by Uruguay as the last African country. Even more than in Germany in 2006, the World Cup managed to strengthen the national pride and a positive international perception of South Africa. The World Cup was simply the main topic of all conversations, even elsewise football-ignorant cashiers in supermarkets and homeless people on the streets discussed their favorite World Cup teams, and girlfriends of mine would enthusiastically share their unique experience in the stadium and the latest game scores via sms and facebook.

Nevertheless, there were also undeniable downsides: Most of the South Africans could not afford tickets for the games in the stadiums despite quite reduced prices for locals and followed the World Cup mainly via the TV at home or in the shebeens (local pubs). With the increased consumption of alcohol and drugs during the World Cup festivities, also the number of violent disputes, domestic violence, rape and herewith new HIV-infections were on the raise.

And due to the extended four-week school holidays, many children in the disadvantaged communities missed out on the regular school meals (for quite a lot the only warm meal per day) and spent more time out on the unsafe streets without parental supervision, often till late at night. This exposed them even more than usual to the risks of daily township life with its challenges of poverty, crime and gang fights about drugtrade areas. Children's Rights Organisations also cautioned against human trafficking of children and young women for forced prostitution long before the World Cup.

To protect at least some of the kids from these potential dangers, the Non-Profit-Organisation Active Schools Initiative (ASI), that I am working with since end of May, organised a holiday program at its partner schools in Cape Town´s and Johannesburg´s disadvantaged communities. ASI was founded in 2006/07 by church members, teachers and parents in Hanover Park, and provides ´Play and Learn´ programmes to develop the children´s cognitive, emotional and social skills, and promotes drug and crime prevention, anti-racism and HIV/Aids awareness. During our two- to three-week holiday programme, the learners painted posters, banners and T-shirts in the colours of their selected World Cup country, learned the famous diski dance and trained the three alternative soccer disciplines of ´spider soccer´, ´partner soccer´ and ´hand soccer´.

2010-07 WC3

In comparison to other NGO holiday programmes who were partly running parallel in the communities, ASI did not only aim to provide physical fun activities and a warm meal. They also wanted to inspire learning about different cultures of the World Cup countries and to provide a safe place for children where they can share their enthusiasm for the World Cup as well as speaking out about negative experiences. Some learners told about kids being abducted in their neighborhood while others experienced knifings during daylight. Most of the kids wished, that ASI offered more holiday activities as they were too bored at home as they couldn´t see their friends and some of them did not feel comfortable and safe in their homes with their drunk parents or drug-addicted siblings.

The highlight of the holiday programme was ASI´s successful Mini World Cup with more than 200 excited participantsl where it was not only about winning, but more about ´Fair Play'. And at least in this mini tournament, where the schools represented their selected World Cup countries, an African country, Nigeria, could win against Spain and Netherlands.

To keep the enthusiasm for soccer also after the World Cup alive, ASI is planning to created safe, child-friendly playing fields for future soccer afternoons at their partner schools. This will represent welcomed alternatives to drugs, alcohol and gangs, and will teach social skills and peaceful conflict resolution. The initiative `Kicking for Peace´ of the Western Cape Network for Community, Peace and Development, where ASI is a proud member since last year, is already offering cross-community tournaments as a promising platform for intercultural encounters and anti-racism work.

By Dayana Dreke (ASI Project Coordinator for Education and Training); Alumni Master of Arts in Development Management and Social Development 2008