ESPN recently published a short video titled “Tough Goals Ahead.” You can see the video at this link (couldn’t embed into post): http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=4973258
The most poignant part of the video, in my opinion, is at the end, around the 5:50 mark. Lahademi Monhedi, a former player now coach/father figure for youth teams in the Meadowlands area of Soweto, indignantly stated,
“People are angry. Around here there is no World Cup…we just hear from the news there is a World Cup…for these boys there is no World Cup…there is no connection at all.”
These statements are a reflection of the inequities that are still alive and well in South Africa, now less than a 100 days to kick-off. The video is largely about youth soccer and the challenges of life in the Meadowlands area of Soweto, only 6 miles from the gleaming new stadium Soccer City in Johannesburg, the result of a remarkable amount of investment. The challenge of kids getting to and from school or soccer practice without succumbing to the pressures of drugs and alcohol; the challenge of staying committed to education when only 2 of 10 teachers show up to teach their classes. All of these challenges are still commonplace in the shadow of the new stadium and I imagine they are shared all around the country.
Mr. Monhedi’s statements lie at the heart of this blog. Will the legacy of the World Cup be a bright light but with a long shadow? Will it have “no connection” as he states, with the majority of the population? Will it be a symbol of profligacy in the face of real economic and social needs? Or will it be a spark for the country and region? Time will tell, but the content of this video illustrates that there’s a lot more work to do.