The year 2010 is an important one for the African continent. Many of our countries are celebrating 50 years of independence and it is a time of reflection for these countries and a chance to take stock of their position at this point in time.
The year 2010 has a magical ring to it for all of us who have been waiting in anticipation of the Soccer World Cup. We are all aware of the tragedy, which befell the Tongolese football team at the African Cup of Nations and are hoping that South Africa can avoid such circumstances.
We African people must see the World Cup not only as a profit-making event but an opportunity to integrate the people of our beautiful continent. The World Cup gives us the platform to tackle our domestic problems. I have seen the opportunity to tackle the Xenophobic attacks here in Cape-Town, which I believe poses a big threat to our country after the World Cup. Many poverty-stricken South Africans are looking towards the World Cup as an opportunity for their economic circumstances to improve. I fear that if this does not happen, there will be huge frustration amongst these people and as many of them blame immigrants for the lack of employment opportunities already, that there will be further xenophobic attacks.
I believe that the excitement of the World Cup amongst the youth can be used to change the mindset of many young people regarding refugees. Many young refugees face discrimination when in school and when using public transport. Local children, who have a belief that these refugees are somehow inferior to them, discriminate against them. Children are highly impressionable and can easily be influenced by the prejudices of their parents. Many youths feel that they are superior, mentally and physically to their refugee counter-parts and are often highly offensive towards refugees.
I have personal experience of this sort of treatment and I understand the impact this has on a child. I am striving to use sport to change the mindsets of youths towards refugees. I formed a soccer team in 2009 made up of predominantly refugee children. I named the team Refugee VI and invited a few South-African teenagers to join us. To start with, many of them did not view us as equals, but after playing soccer with them, this changed and now we are like brothers.
With the world cup around the corner, I believe that we can do a lot ito change the perception of refugees in the minds of local children. During the World Cup, we would like to play soccer matches within the communities in which there were Xenophobic attacks. Our plan, is to play matches against local children and after to socialize with them, perhaps by watching a world cup game on television together. At the same time we will be distributing pamphlets about refugees, in an attempt to debunk some of the myths surrounding refugees. We would also like to give T-shirts to our opposition and people in these communities with anti-xenophobic sloguns on them. All of these things will take a great deal of organization, time and effort. I would be delighted if you could help me in achieving success through this project.