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SiyaThemba means 'we hope'
Members of the Somkhele community—youth footballers, nurses and teachers—selected the winner from among nine finalists. The group selected Swee Hong Ng, 29, originally from Singapore and now working at EDGE studio in Pittsburgh. Staged by Architecture for Humanity, a nonprofit based in New York, the competition attracted more than 300 entries with finalists and honorable-mention submissions from Peru, Japan, Sweden, Mexico, Chile and Thailand. The facility, to be built beginning later this year, will become a youth center and venue for health education, aimed primarily at teaching students about HIV/AIDS. It will also host the area's first girls' soccer league. In Ng's renderings, the pitch is semi-enclosed with V-shaped terraces, covered in a canopy of native fabrics.
Update: View a video about the Siyathemba project, including interviews with Swee Hong Ng and organizers, at the Architecture for Humanity website (link opens QuickTime movie file).TESTIMONIALS
'Tigers don't cry' in retirement
Soweto, South Africa, and Leeds, England, 28 April 2005 | The season of testimonial matches has begun. Sunday at Elland Road, Leeds United pay
How tight to draw the drawstring
Johannesburg, 9 March 2005 | Perhaps we should just tune out the latest nonsense from women's football functionaries—this time from
All agreed that with Mandela at the fore, South Africa produced a spectacular bid.
Blaring hooters and firecrackers rocked the Five Roses Bowl in Mofolo, Soweto, as thousands of township residents and their white countrymen celebrated. Thrilled residents felt that the South African bid company, led by Irvin Khoza and Danny Jordaan, strengthened their presentation immeasurably by involving Mandela. "He held the ace for us. Mandela represents everything that is good and vibrant and positive about South Africa," said Gugu Sibiya. Mangethe Zwane, a former soccer player for Zola Young Stars, commended Khoza and Jordaan on a job well done. . . . "Doors are opening wide for every South African. A man in the street is guaranteed a job now." (Larry Lombaard and Gillian Jones, "South Africa Jubilant after World Cup News," Mail and Guardian, 16 May)
Mandela, by all accounts, made a poignant presentation to the executive committee the day before its award. Referring to South Africa's expulsion from FIFA in 1976 as well as his own imprisonment, the former president said, "It is 28 years since FIFA took its stand against racially divided football and helped inspire the final story against apartheid. While we were on Robben Island, the only access to the World Cup was on radio. Football was the only joy to prisoners. . . . I can confirm that we are ready, determined, willing and capable, as well as passionate, about hosting the World Cup. You, my friends, have it in your hands to make that dream a reality. As football generated hope on Robben Island, hosting this World Cup will give a certain meaning to this hope" (Grahame L. Jones, "South Africa to Stage Soccer World Cup," Los Angeles Times, 16 May). Others note that Mandela paid more attention to boxing and tennis in his 750-page autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. Whatever. (For more on football and Robben Island, see the gleanings entry for 27 April 2004 below.)
Even with Mandela's presentation, though, the London Daily Telegraph reports that committee members required last-minute hotel-room schmoozing to seal the arrangement (Mihir Bose, "How South Africa Swung the Vote in Their Favor," 17 May). According to the Telegraph account, a block of four votes—three from the Central American, North American and Caribbean nations and one from Oceania— controlled by CONCACAF chief Jack Warner changed hands from Morocco to South Africa in a last hotel-room encounter, with Mandela waiting in his suite until 30 minutes before the final announcement lest he be publicly humiliated. That final swing means some 21 billion South African rand ($3.1 billion) in income, 150,000 jobs and untold residual effects (Rowan Philip and Andrew Donaldson, "Economic Cup Will Overflow," Sunday Times [Johannesburg], 16 May). One residual effect relates to Mandela himself: a 110-meter statue in the Port Elizabeth harbor mouth, called the Statue of Freedom, that could be fast-tracked for completion by 2009. On 18 July 2010, Mandela would turn 92.PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA, 27 APRIL 2004
Nelson Mandela with one of the supporters of South Africa's bid. (AP)
Other sources on World Cup 2010
FIFA has posted its inspection group report on the five bidding groups (link opens PDF file), in which South Africa is rated highest. The report is not binding on the 24-member executive committee that, on 15 May, will decide who hosts the event. The International Herald Tribune calls the decision "one of the most significant votes in the history of sports." The body of FIFA's report is worth perusing, if only for small insights into the bidding process. The suits from FIFA, for example, attended a match in Morocco between Raja and WAC, both of Casablanca. "Even though this match was hotly disputed with some excessively aggressive play at times . . . , the crowd displayed remarkable compusure, and not a single object was thrown onto the pitch" (p. 48).
When football and Africa come together, race is central, nowhere more so than in South Africa. Curiously, part of the strength of South Africa's bid is its ability to represent black Africa, though its reacceptance into FIFA in 1992 followed some 30 years of exclusion for a refusal to field mixed-race international sides. Now the nation serves as a touchstone for forward-thinking conversations about race issues: "Many whites, I wouldn't say all, have a particular stereotype of black people," Mbeki told Johannesburg's Mail and Guardian in 2001. "They would deny it, but it's true. They see black people as lazy, basically dishonest, thieving, corrupt. 'They can't really govern any country. Look at what's happened in the rest of Africa.' That would be the argument" (quoted in Sharon LaFraniere, "After Reconciliation, Steering South Africa to a Reckoning," New York Times).
Interesting is to trace football's development through the apartheid era and its consistent importance to black communities. Football grounds were homes for political rallies; even on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela, prisoner 466/64, was held for 18 years, football was played on Saturdays. "Football is one of those sports which used to sustain us," said inmate Patrick Mathanjana in History of Football: The Beautiful Game,
in terms of not thinking about home, not thinking about your sentence. . . . On [Saturday] each and every section must come with its own best team. Everybody is determined, he's ready. You know, he goes all out. They must win, these guys. And then we even go to the extent of buying books, so that we must know when they say a man is offside, how do they say so? We buy all those books, but only to find out when we buy that book, another one is going to tell us, "No, no! That book is an old book." So we've got to get a new book. It's quite a struggle. Days and days, months and months, discussing about this.
Mandela, although officially uncommitted, is believed to support Orlando Pirates, a Soweto side that includes on its website an account of the 1976 uprising and the Orlando township's involvement. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, along with Mandela, will be lobbying CONCACAF at its congress this weekend in Grenada. Archbishop Tutu also used the pulpit at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, to implore parishioners: "You can help us if you can make these people who decide the soccer venue. Tell them there is no other country really but South Africa to be the host of the World Soccer Cup" (Rob Hughes, "South Africa's World Cup Bid Gains Official Blessing," International Herald Tribune, 6 May). (For much more background on South Africa, the recent elections and race relations, see the BBC election site, National Public Radio's "Mandela: An Audio History," and chapter 14 of Simon Kuper's Football against the Enemy, "Mandela at Helderfontein.")