Soccer: A universal language

Written by Andrea Fisher 

A universal language, the beautiful game is a sport loved by billions of people across the globe. Whether playing in the streets or spectating at 50 000-seater stadiums, there is a unified division as people come together to watch and spur on their chosen team. In South Africa, soccer has been the sport of the people for more than one hundred years. It was in 1996 when South African soccer made its global presence and the country celebrated with Nelson Mandela as the national team lifted the African Cup of Nations trophy. Bafana Bafana, as the national side became known, shared the day of elation with the father of the nation, Mr. Nelson Mandela.

3 Feb 1996: The captain of the winners of the African Cup of Nations Final Neil Tovey of South Africa holds the cup aloft after President Mandela presented it to him. South Africa won 2-0. Credit: Mark Thompson/ALLSPORT

Once the national side began to make an impact in the soccer-sphere, a league was established for 16 of the country’s best teams. Not only did this bring more camaraderie to the game and to the nation, but it proved to be lucrative. Sponsors were eager to support the boys, making South Africa’s Premier Soccer League the seventh biggest earner in sponsorship revenue, globally. (https://www.brandsouthafrica.com/people-culture/sport/soccer)

14 years after the memorable AFCON Cup, the world rallied together in South Africa to participate, spectate and celebrate what would be the most profitable FIFA World Cup yet. This was one of the country’s greatest sporting milestones and the memories are still fond and bringing smiles to faces. The country proved all the naysayers wrong by successfully hosting a world-class event, “against all odds”. The impact of the 2010 World Cup will be ever-lasting on South Africans and a great reference, not only to future host cities, but also from a humanity perspective.

Source: Wikipedia 2010 FIFA World Cup

“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.” – Nelson Mandela

In November 2017, Cape Town will welcome the Volvo Ocean Race to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Among many other activities, the race will host sports activations in and around the globe for each stopover. It is important to reach as many communities as possible, thus there will be weekend events for children from all over Cape Town to participate in. With the youth as the focus, the Dutch and South African football associations, KNVB and SAFA, are collaborating to engage young people and connect them to opportunities in sport.

The weekend will include a Legends football match between Dutch and South African soccer legends, as well as training for new coaches by Dutch WorldCoaches. A sports conference will be hosted to discuss the long-term benefits of big sporting events and how to make these events more sustainable. The KNVB, SAFA and the Orange Cup are doing the most for children in the Cape Town communities, in terms of inclusion and empowerment, as is synonymous with soccer.

Despite Bafana Bafana’s current ranking and other sporting challenges South Africa may currently be enduring, the Volvo Ocean Race is sure to bring joy to the youth during their Cape Town stopover. Progress and long-term changes are anticipated and welcomed in the city. Nurturing our youth and equipping them for the future, guides and empowers them to be the change we need to see.


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