Johannesburg, South Africa – 17 January 2010
So long Africa…hello Brazil!
The last weeks in Africa for Why Sport Matters were filled with nostalgia and a bit of adventure. It has been a great 3-month tour of Africa, but we are also excited to be heading to South America – with the first stop in Brazil (see the updated TRAVEL SCHEDULE). John can also take comfort that he will be returning to South Africa in 5 months for World Cup 2010 starting in June.
As is turns out, Zambia was the final country to visit in Africa. On New Year’s Day, Why Sport Matters headed from the capital of Lusaka to Livingstone, where the famous Victoria Falls is located. These majestic waterfalls (see photo) are one of the world’s natural wonders as huge slices in the earth surface allow enormous amounts of water from the Zambezi River to crash down into the gorge. The resulting effect of mist and noise made the locals call the place “Mosi-oa-tunya” – the smoke that thunders. Check out this video with our new friend Chiinga, a local nature guide, who gave us some insight into the area.
Victoria Falls is also an important destination point for extreme sports enthusiasts. The bridge that spans the gorge between Zambia and Zimbabwe holds one of the world’s highest bungee-jumping platforms. Check out this video on our YOUTUBE page that shows the adrenaline rush of jumping off from 111 metres. Adventure junkies flock to the area to take part in ziplining, abseiling, whitewater rafting, game safaris in the nearby nature reserves, and more.
Back in the capital of Lusaka, Why Sport Matters’ first stop was at the IOC Sport for Hope Centre. This multi-sport athletic facility is the first of what is planned to be 10 of these centres in impoverished areas across the world. It is due to be open by mid-2010, and will be one of the premier sport facilities in the country. In parallel with its focus to help improve elite athletes, there is also a strong outreach programme for the local community. The centre plans to offer Zambians educational opportunities to help alleviate poverty, malnutrition and health problems like HIV/Aids. Check out this YOUTUBE VIDEO from the entrance to the centre (which as of January 2010 is still under construction).
Our good friend and FIFA MA colleague In’utu Mubanga organized a half-day symposium at the University of Zambia where she is a lecturer in the Sport and Physical Education Department. The Symposium was appropriately entitled “Why Sport Matters” and John was happy to be the guest speaker and explain more about the project and what took Why Sport Matters to Zambia. Around 30 participants from the sports community in Zambia were able to engage in dialogue and share ideas during the session. Thanks to In’utu for her hard work and preparation to put this all together (see photo).
Other meetings in Zambia included an interview with NOC President Miriam Moyo, a visit to the OlympAfrica centre, and an interview with the Director of Sport from the Zambia Ministry of Sport and Culture. We also had the chance to spend an afternoon and do some filming at an intervention with Grassroot Soccer. This is an organization which uses soccer (and sport activity) to teach kids from poor communities about HIV and the realities of AIDS. Why Sport Matters was able to interact with the 100+ kids from the Kalikiliki settlement, and watch how the young coaches teach the curriculum in a fun atmosphere (see photo).
Why Sport Matters‘ planned trip to Angola was cancelled, as we were unable to secure our entry visas. This past week has therefore been spent in Johannesburg, where we have been following closely the African Cup of Nations tournament going on in Angola. The tournament began with a huge tragedy as the Togo team bus was ambushed by rebels near the border with Congo, and 3 people were killed including the assistant coach. As a result, Togo has pulled out of the competition and returned home. In the meantime, the tournament proceeded, and the first week of games has been exciting if not surprising. The biggest news is that the teams who are due to compete in the World Cup have had a series of disappointing results, which goes to prove the increasing level and parity of African football.
Back in Johannesburg, the English cricket team began the last of its 4 test matches with South Africa. Although the Proteas (South Africa) have played well, they needed a win to even the series. John spent Day 2 with fellow FIFA MA alum Kabelo Bosilong at the famous Wanderers cricket grounds. In the end, South Africa bowled out the English to take a convincing victory.
Lisa had the good fortune to head to the eastern coast of South Africa near Durban with our friend Corne this past week. It was a great chance to take a break (here in the summer of the southern hemisphere) before our next journey. But any time on this trip seems to be coordinated with sport activities as well – and Lisa took time for a scuba dive in the Indian Ocean as well as a horseback ride on the beach (see photo).
These past months have been a great opportunity to explore and learn more about the incredible continent of Africa. 2010 is sure to be an important year with the world’s focus on South Africa for the football World Cup in only a few months. In talking to many people about the impact the tournament will have, it is clear that it is a huge psychological boost for not only South Africa, but all of Africa, as this is their opportunity to prove themselves to the rest of the world. It will be great to be back in June to witness it!
Next stop – Brazil! Click on our updated TRAVEL SCHEDULE for South America to see when we will also be in Argentina, Chile and Colombia. In addition, you can find more fun stuff on the project on our dedicated pages on:
A special thanks these past few weeks to Jonathan, Kabelo, Corne, Anja, In’utu, Chiinga, and Clay.
South America here we come!