14 June 2019

South Africa: Being Banyana - a History of Strife


To understand Banyana Banyana's 2019 World Cup, one has to consider their journey to existence.

On any winter's afternoon in Cape Town, when the sun is hazy in the absence of the seasonal Cape Doctor - the wind that blows away all the pollution in summer - you can escape the hustle and bustle of Salt River main road by taking just one turn.

Dart down Shelly Road and within a few hundred meters you'll reach a proverbial oasis. Well, if you can imagine an oasis framed by litter and cigarette butts.

If you hadn't witnessed one of the many kickabouts that often take place here, you might think the field is a grazing meadow rather than a soccer pitch.

But those who take moments to pause will have seen some crafty exhibitions of skill, punctuated by infectious laughter we rarely experience in the flesh these days.

Accessible through its gaping main gate on Shelley Road - or through cunning short cuts in removed slabs of concrete for the svelte and savvy - the pitch is cradled by the matchbox semi-detached houses, a conveniently placed corner shop for post-match refreshments and the call to prayer, many have passed over its...

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