Football: Handmade in South Africa

2010-soccer-ball

By grassroots reporter Thandile Ntlebi – One of the COSAT (Center of Science and Technology) learners, 17 years old, living in Township Khayelitsha, South Africa. Visit more of Thandile’s stories on Students for Humanity

Young boys are starting to realize their dreams and do what ever they can to make sure that those dreams come true even if they must get themselves dirty.

It’s Saturday around 11am, the community is very peaceful and the quietness makes parents wonder what their kids are up to. Within hours you hear whistles and names being called. Your boy is watching TV until his name is being called; he jumps up and runs as fast as a cheetah.

Around 1pm the field is full of people, as if there will be a fight or a community meeting. When you check it’s just young boys sorting themselves into two teams. After the argument of who should play and in which position, they settle down. The teams go to their side of the field to plan how they are going to win the match. The minimum of players is four; the maximum is eleven players for each team.

The referee blows his whistle and the game begins. Fans give courage to their players by cheering. They make them feel proud and confident. What is amazing is the ball and the field they are playing on. These boys do not have a coach or someone telling them what to do. They don’t have money to buy a soccer ball….. they make it on their own.

This how the ball is made:

Firstly you look for old clothes or blankets. Then you put a few condoms around, which you blow up with your mouth, but not with too much air. Just so it’s the same size as a soccer ball. After this you put either a plastic bag or a piece of old clothing over the condom. Then to make it strong, you tear up the old clothing or blanket into long strips and tie the strips all around the condom to strengthen the shape of the ball and make it heavier. Once you can feel it bounces well, you take a strong plastic bag and wrap it around the ball. Lastly you reinforce it by wrapping strong rope or tire wire around it.

Maybe you are surprised but let me tell you about the field. It is not a play ground or a park but it is a field that is full of drains and the half of it has a long grass and some kind of a wetland and a dumping place. And as we all know that when you are playing soccer you need scoring nets. These boys don’t have scoring nets, but take wood or cardboard that is in the carpet and make poles.

In the end some go home smiling and singing winners songs and others go home in a way sad but still planning how to beat them tomorrow.

These boys are young and know nothing about suffering or what the world is going to bring them in the future. But all they know they want to be famous soccer players and being admired by the world. They come from a poor back ground and they didn’t choose to be there but they can try by all means to change it and make their future as bright as it can be.

Maybe you think I’m crazy but hey, they are the ones who are building things from scratch and are creative if they don’t have money to buy what they need. They are the ones who get their selves dirty just to be seen as a soccer player. These are geniuses don’t you think so?

The credits of the soccer ball photo go to our friend Michiel Van Balen


thandile-ntlebi-tash

9 comments » Write a comment

  1. The girls in our home make these balls, even though we have perfectly good actual balls. Well to be honest the real balls do get punctures easily. Could it be that these homemade balls are better?

  2. The creativity and tenacity these young people demonstrate to achieve their dreams is impressive.
    A Ugandan journalist writes a similar blog on Katine Chronicles about the experiences of 18 year old Samson Ejilu who made his own footballs “by tying string around pieces of paper, cloth, sponge and polythene.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/katine/blog/2009/may/12/footballer-samson-ejilu

    Samson and his team got one step closer to their dreams of football stardom by playing in Katine 09, a football tournament organised as part of the Guardian Katine Project – a rural development initiative ran by the Guardian and African NGO Amref.
    The tournament was an opportunity for passionate football players in the in the improvished eastern region of Uganda to show off their skills to talent scounts, rebuild community spirit shattered by war in the north and catch a glimpse of the revered Barclays Premier League trophy!

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/katine

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