Lusaka, Zambia – 1 January 2010
Happy New Year from Why Sport Matters!
It has been a summer, holiday season these past 2 weeks in South Africa, which has allowed Why Sport Matters to take in some warm weather sports. In Durban, we took in the beach culture along the Indian Ocean – the warm water a stark contrast to the chilly Atlantic over in Cape Town. This region is also known as the land of 1,000 hills with its rolling landscape and green countryside. The city skyline has been enhanced with the addition of the new stadium to be used to host the FIFA World Cup matches in June this year. The sleek design of the stadium also offers a unique elevator ride to the very top directly over the pitch (see photo), with sweeping views of the city, countryside and ocean. The hosting of next year’s FIFA World Cup will bring the spotlight of the world to this country, and the citizens are excited to show off its passion for great sport.
Back in Johannesburg, Why Sport Matters headed to cricket grounds in Pretoria to catch Day 4 of England’s first of four tests with South Africa. It was a brilliant summer day down here in the southern hemisphere, with the spectators making their own BBQ (braai to the locals) in the lawn while the players break for “tea” at midday to refuel for the afternoon! We took the occasion to speak with Jeremy Fredericks, a prominent cricket and rugby TV broadcaster, who gave Why Sport Matters more insight into this game and what it means to South African culture.
It was great to spend some time with old friend Clay Smith and his wife Isabelle, who have been in Joburg working on World Cup projects. On Christmas Eve, we spent the day on the golf course at the famous Wanderers sports club in Johannesburg. For the first time in his life, John actually had a caddie with him, as is the custom here. Check out the video with Chilli, the caddie who once carried the bag of Nick Price, but watched in vain as John played his usual erratic golf. In the clubhouse (and in the newspapers), the Tiger Woods scandal has been the talk of the town, as the whole world is following this story with keen interest. It will be interesting to see how the game will be affected by this human drama.
It has been eye-opening to see how South Africa’s sporting culture reflects society, and is fascinating to understand how sport played a key role in the unraveling of apartheid. Why Sport Matters spoke with Qondisa Ngwenya – one of the prominent freedom fighters through sport in support of the movement of “No normal sport in an abnormal society”, as sport was completely segregated by race under apartheid policy. Protests and boycotts were organized for any visiting sport teams (especially cricket tours), as well as the South African rugby tour to New Zealand. This successful boycott in New Zealand still resonates here and has made the All-Blacks still a popular team in South Africa, especially in the anti-apartheid community. The exclusion and isolation by the international community for South African sport teams played a key role in the recognition that the apartheid system was unsustainable, and helped break the colour barriers in the country.
One of the interesting tourist stops in South Africa is the “Cradle of Mankind”, which lies just outside Johannesburg. Archaeologists have uncovered the oldest fossils of mankind in this region, which has made scientists believe that all humans can actually be traced back to African roots. Also nearby in this beautiful countryside is the Rhino and Lion game reserve, and was a special surprise for us as it allowed visitors to get especially close to a wide range of safari animals. We had the opportunity to play with lion cubs (see photo with Lisa and the white lion cub), and see how sick and injured wild animals are cared for.
Why Sport Matters is starting off 2010 by heading to Zambia for the final country to visit in Africa. We will visit the famous Victoria Falls over the weekend, and see why it is known as an extreme sports mecca for adventure enthusiasts. Other visits planned include the IOC Sport for Hope project and the Grassroot Soccer initiative amongst others. FIFA Master colleague In’utu Mubanga has even invited Why Sport Matters to do a presentation and roundtable on the project at the University of Zambia. Though we had to cancel our trip to Angola the following week, Why Sport Matters will be following closely the action from the African Nations Cup, which begins in a few days.
Though our 3-month tour of Africa is coming to a close, Why Sport Matters is excited to look ahead to the next continent – South America! We are due to arrive in Sao Paolo on 18 January and spend the next 3 months exploring the continent. Once again, we would like to reach out to you and invite you to let us know the potential stories, places to visit, and people to meet with as we prepare our schedule for South America. Please CONTACT US and let us know more about how you think sport really does matter in these places.
As always, you can follow our progress through the TRAVEL SCHEDULE, and pinpoint our exact route and location on Google Maps by clicking on the WHERE ARE WE NOW? page of the site. In addition, you can find more fun stuff on the project on our dedicated pages on:
Further thanks these past weeks in South Africa goes to Hugh Bladen, one of the most well-known rugby commentators in South Africa, Kevin and Yasmine in Durban, Clay and Isabelle, and Anja.
Wishing you a very Happy New Year!