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Thursday, April 15, 2010

2010 fever - better late than never

BOSTON - In South Africa, it's one word - "2010". In the United States it's a mouthful -  "the Fifa World Cup Soccer tournament", and even then, you are likely to get a few blank stares.
2010 fever has taken a while to penetrate in this football-basketball-baseball-ice hockey crazed country, but I got a taste of the hype a few days ago during a posh fund-raising awards function at the Moakley US Courthouse in the city. The function was organised by South Africa Partners, a Boston group which "aims to forge deeper and more meaingful relationships between the US and South Africa".
I made a rare crossing over the Charles River from our  Cambridge student bubble for the evening to find out more about the links between South Africa and Boston.
Here I learnt that an initiative called World Cup Boston 2010 had launched back in September. I also learnt that it had the support of Boston mayor Thomas Menino (see picture above), who was present at the function to receive the Desmond Tutu Award for his commitment to social justice. World Cup Boston 2010 has been calling for volunteers to assist with public programmes in soccer, culture, community and education for Boston youth and families. It also aims to bring the Beautiful Game to fields in various communities, culminating in the Mini World Cup Youth Soccer Tournament between June 26 and 27. Viewing parties during World Cup Games will also be unrolled during the event. (see
I met many Bostonians with links to SA. I also met a few South Africans, some of whom who were just visiting Boston and others who had not returned home after leaving SA during apartheid. One particularly impressive young South African who is set to return home later this year after
completing one year at a local High School was volunteer Tumi Ramafoko (pictured top left). At 18, Tumi has the gift of the gab, has a face and voice for television, and is set to go places in any career that she chooses (you heard it hear first!). I also met Bostonians with a passion for South Africa, including Jacqueline Maloney (pictured left), a church and community activist from Dorchester in Boston who told me she has visited South Africa 10 times.
The overall mood was upbeat, celebratory and measured.  None of the speakers mentioned either of the two rogues back home in South Africa who had dominated SA headlines all week - the old white supremacist who has just departed or the young troublemaker who is an extremist in the making. But that didn't silence the guests. Tales of Eugene Terreblanche and Julius Malema dominated dinner table talk, with the hot-off-the-press Terreblanche sex scandal stealing the thunder.
It's 2010, and South Africa is back in the news in more ways than one.

1 comment:

  1. I hope the WC creates more opportunities for girls to participate in soccer in SA! I started playing at 5 and was on competitive traveling teams by 12. Every time I'm in SA I'm taken aback by how relatively few opportunities there are for girls to play. (And it's virtually impossible to find a women's team.)