We knew we were part of the universe of footballers (Part 2)

(Continued from Part 1 where a wonderful BBC World Cup short documentary revealed why football is so important in South Africa). As the Robben Island prisoners’ football league, the Makana Football Association, blossomed, the imprisoned players realised how important football was to them (for reasons that will surprise you).

The MFA is said to have developed into an outlet and symbol of the prisoners’ passion and commitment to discipline. ‘More Than Just A  Game’ is a ‘true story’ feature film,  whose synopsis describes the MFA as a “training ground not only for the body but for the political soul, where the principles of negotiation and dialogue [were] practiced and entrenched.”

In a sense, this brotherhood of football gave the players a code. As Michael Okeowo beautiful piece stated “political prisoners defied apartheid rules, but adhered strictly to the FIFA’s rules”.

One former prison player explained at the end of the short BBC documentary, how playing football helped them to survive their oppression because: ‘We knew we were part of the universe of footballers.’


This film  reminds footballers of the joy of playing football, which is sometimes forgotten amidst epic battles, jangling nerves, passion to win, and, the sheer excitement of the World Cup.

2 thoughts on “We knew we were part of the universe of footballers (Part 2)

  1. Great post and my sentiments entirely. There was an interesting response to Terry Eagleton’s piece in the Guardian recently (a new take on the football is the opiate of the masses etc, etc) when someone said “Sure Terry but you’re leaving something out – football is still bloody great!”

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