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Project November 9, 2010

Grassroots Games: A Portrait of South Africa Post-World Cup

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Image by Mark Jeevaratnam, South Africa, 2010.
Image by Mark Jeevaratnam, South Africa, 2010.
During summer 2010, the world descended upon South Africa for the most watched sporting event - The FIFA World Cup. The process of preparing for this world event required multilateral efforts led principally by South Africa and FIFA. Media coverage of pre-World Cup efforts and of the event itself was vast and plentiful. However, there has not been much international coverage of the post-World Cup conditions in South Africa.
How is the 'Rainbow Nation' reacquainting with usual, day-to-day living after hosting a major world sporting event? Although South Africa donned its Sunday's best for the international event, displaying its full potential to the World's viewers, recent reports suggest unrest within the nation, indicating that South Africa may still be a far cry from becoming the country the world witnessed during summer 2010.
Mark Jeevaratnam, one of the five grandprize winners of the 2010 YouTube Project: Report competition, will examine the issues of poverty, unemployment, and inequality within the country by embedding himself in the community of Hillbrow, Johannesburg and focusing on the grassroots level of soccer. In the informal, developmental aspect of the game, how does playing and watching soccer unite the youth and people of this community? What has been the affect of the World Cup, a professional undertaking, on the developmental and youth leagues within the community? Did the World Cup alleviate or exacerbate some of the unfortunate circumstances people have been living with? And, what power does the game of football have for initiating development and improving the lives of South Africans living under the most desperate circumstances?
Mark Jeevaratnam was one of five winners of the 2010 Pulitzer Center YouTube Project Report contest