Soccer players unite against xenophobia

Tariro Washinyira
Children enjoying the unite as one event. Photo by Tariro Washinyira.
Tariro Washinyira

Last week, twelve soccer teams representing different countries participated in a four-day soccer tournament under the campaign theme “unite as one”. The tournament took place in Nyanga and was organised as a Heritage day celebration.

The event was organised by Sonke Gender Justice Network, Scalabrini Centre, MSAT, City of Cape Town and Nyanga League Football Association.

The Mzansi team played against Cameroon in the tournament final. Mzansi were the winners and won R1500, a trophy and a gold medal. Cameroon came second and Zimbabwe third. The prizes were sponsored by Sonke gender Justice Network.

The participating teams were named, regardless of the player’s nationalities, after different countries during the competition. For instance, Jam Alley, a team from Nyanga, represented Zimbabwe in the tournament.

Organiser Jean Marie of Sonke Gender Justice Network said that the tournament is a way of eliminating xenophobia. He explained that carrying a different country’s flag gives the players an understanding of their culture and encourages them to embrace diversity. He added that the idea for this day arose in response to the outbreak of the 2008 xenophobic violence in Cape Town. The idea is the brainchild of PASSOP and the Scalabrini Centre.

Inbar Millo of Scalabrini Centre explained that as part of a four day campaign that included the soccer tournament her organisation was distributing information educating people about diversity and fighting xenophobia. They were running workshops in schools, screening movies, movie screening and organising mural paintings.

Inside the pitched tent at Nyanga Stadium was a display of the different African countries represented, including their country flags and cultural values. A big map of Africa with the campaign theme “Unite as One” was hanging on the wall. Children enjoyed beading activities in the tent and face painting outside, while elders were impatiently sitting on the terraces waiting for the soccer kick-offs.

Nyanga Stars Football Club captain, Luthando Williams from Athlone, said that even though his team lost in the semi-finals the previous day, the aim of the tournament was to fight xenophobia and unite as Africans. “People should not be judged or treated less like human because of where they come from.”

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TOPICS:  Society Sport

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