September 15, 2009
Homeless Soccer Team does SA proud
Perfecting the winning goal during training before the Homeless World cup
After a gruelling eight-day campaign in Milan, Italy, the South African Homeless Soccer Team is returning victorious from the Homeless Soccer World Cup.
With a tough draw from the start, the South African team was tested physically and mentally in the course of the tournament. After losing narrowly to both Nigeria (ranked 9th) and Hungary (ranked 20th) in the group phase, the team staged a comeback, beating Japan, Kazakhstan and Wales to take third place in its group.
The top three teams in each group then moved on to a second round-robin competition. Injuries took their toll on the South African team, which lost to Ireland, Ghana and Lithuania before bouncing back to beat the Netherlands and Germany.
This was the boost the team needed and it went from strength to strength, beating Romania in the quarterfinals and the US in the semi-finals.
The team, consisting of eight players from the Western Cape, showed no mercy to African compatriots Malawi, trouncing them 9-1 in the final.
One of the players responsible for South Africa’s sterling performance is vice-captain Martin Africa. Africa lived on the streets of Cape Town for 22 years before he joined the MylifE empowerment project in Cape Town and found his passion for soccer. Leaving behind a gangster lifestyle fuelled by alcohol and drug abuse, Africa helped lead the team to victory in Milan.
“If people on the streets were given opportunities like this more often, no one would turn to drugs,” Africa says. “I will never turn to drugs again.”
Africa believes that if South Africa were to recognise all it has to offer, the country would be a better place for people like him.
The team arrives home from Milan on Tuesday, September 15. Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille will give the team a civic welcome in Parliament on Wednesday, September 16 at 14h00.
If you would like to welcome the team home, contact MylifE on +27 21 461 0280 or call Linzi Thomas on +27 72 927 8064 for further details.