hOW SOCCER SAVED US
More Than Just A Game is certainly that. The subtitle of this book says it all: Football v Apartheid - the most important football story ever told.
This newspaper recently ran a series of articles based on what has been described as Fifa's Hidden Football Stories.
This is one story that impressed the world football governing body and its president Sepp Blatter no end.
The book is about football and its therapeutic effect on a people. It is the story of South African political prisoners incarcerated on the infamous Robben Island during the apartheid years and how they overcame the atrocious conditions and ill-treatment by white warders.
It is the story of the Makana Football Association, which was founded on the island and had Dikgang Moseneke as its first democratically elected chairman.
Blatter says about the book, "More Than Just A Game is about those who played on Robben Island and who have since become South Africa's leaders: Jeff Radebe, Jacob Zuma, Mark Shinners, Anthony Suze, Marcus Solomon and Tokyo Sexwale. Above all, it is the story of the thousands of relatively unknown prisoners whose lives were enriched by football and whose sacrifices made possible the eventual creation of a free South Africa."
This is a story of triumph over adversity, which shows just how football can give hope and make a difference in people's lives.
The book has been translated into a movie that stars, among others, Presley Chueneyagae of Tsotsi fame.
Football was what kept the always restless natives alive with hope, the only form of "affordable" entertainment for millions of disenfranchised Africans.
The story of apartheid has been told over and over again and sometimes sounds like a stuck record.
The other angle to the cause of suffering for millions of blacks in this country, as related in this book, has never been more aptly told than by the players who played for the various teams of the Makana Football Association.
Sometimes they were not allowed to play because there were reportedly not enough warders to guard them while they played.
It was a form of punishment.
The association had teams such as Manong FC, Rangers, Gunners, Ditshitshidi, Hotspurs, Dynamo, Bucks and Black Eagles, with each having three divisions, A, B and C.
It also had a referees union whose motto was "Service before self".
This is a good read.