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Poor's 'World Cup' keeps drugs at bay

By Francis Hweshe | Jun 21, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

ANOTHER world tournament kicked off in Western Cape last week.

Organised by the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, the 36-team tournament was launched to run parallel with the Fifa World Cup and as a platform to highlight the plight of the province's poor.

The lobby group has organised the Poor People's World Cup, which has seen 36 teams from poor communities across the city get into action.

The AEC has slammed the government for "wasting R500billion building stadiums instead of better housing for the poor".

They have snubbed the World Cup, saying would only benefit Fifa and its sponsors and not the local communities.

The competing teams have been named after countries such as Haiti, Somalia, Palestine, Brazil, England, Zimbabwe and Argentina.

The tournament, which will see the winning team walk away with R5000, kicked off last week in Athlone.

At the weekend the Delft community was abuzz with action as the teams met again for the competition that is expected to wind up in the next two weeks.

Gary Hatzenberg, one of the organisers, said: "It's the Poor People's World Cup. We don't have resources. We don't have Coca-Cola to sponsor us. We don't have enough balls. We are used to it (poverty).

"The World Cup is not benefiting us. The R500billion used for the stadiums should have been used for better housing.

"We replaced world champions Italy with Palestine to highlight the struggles of other countries."

He urged teams at the Fifa tournament to visit their games and inspire the youth from troubled communities.

"Diego Maradona or Lionel Messi should come and talk to the children," he said.

Mevin Lawrence, the Cameroon team coach, said the poor were "scratching the ground to earn a living".

He said in Athlone, where his team came from, drugs and crime were "the biggest problems".

"The only blessing is that the youngsters are here for a positive thing. It's a pleasure to work with young people who want to see change," Lawrence said.

Michael Jacobs, who coaches South Korea, said his players did not have boots or socks but hoped to beat Chile.

He said most players were jobless and could not afford a decent meal.

"Some guys don't have food so we have to share . others have lost parents," he said.

Yasser Swarz of from Hanover Park, who plays for team Greece, said soccer kept him away from drugs and crime.


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