Date Published: 07/02/10
Soccer Can Heal The World! By Ben Wuloo Ikari
Football, otherwise known as Soccer, can change the way friends, neighbors, especially people of different political opinion, ethnic nationality and race think about one another. Although other sports have the capability of bringing people together the number of countries and people involved in these sports: basketball, handball misnamed football and long tennis or volley ball and tracks among others are small compared to the number of people who play, watch and act as soccer fans.
The enthusiasm in soccer is also wonderful! Its massive involvement, the large number of countries that register penultimate a soccer tournament especially FIFA World Cup series puts soccer ahead as the most watched, most loved sports on earth. It’s also the most skillful and its stars are the most physically fit or agile in sports on earth. It's this embrace, love, skills, fitness and agility that offers soccer as the sports that can heal the world if properly planned. These skills and agility can be transformed into workable skills the world needs to triumph as one group in respect, unity, justice and peace.
If participants are enlightened and given the tools to knowing that each of them represent each corner, political belief, nation and continent of the world, etc. The success soccer stars would bring to humanity in terms of a mass movement and community efforts will be at best imagined than described. Imagine the efforts in Haiti. I’m convinced a soccer movement will topple the love shown by people of goodwill around the world there. Of course, there should be honest competition in touching a soul or healing distressed people.
We've seen how former Pres. Nelson Mandela used Rugby to unite the once bitterly divided people of South Africa. When Mandela was released from prison in 1990, it’s under the apartheid rulership of former Pres. Fredrick W. Declerk. He became the first black majority and democratic president of South Africa. Mandela was faced with lots of challenges.
One of the greatest challenges was the deeply divided white and black population. In the movie "Invectus" which means never give up; not conquered or defeated in Latin, Mandela declared, those who were Africanas and have oppressed us are no longer our enemies. They're now our friends. He inherited a country he fought for and gave his all, but without economic, military and police control. These were still in the hands of whites according to Invectus, which Freeman Morgan played as Mandela.
Unity was therefore Mandela's pressing objective. How to achieve that wasn't quite easy. In his wisdom, spirit of humility and humanity, he found answer to the problem. Forgiveness for all previous wrongs by whites was the first key. Then he used Rugby, which was mostly a white sports to bring all South Africans together as one people.
Before this time, while whites were cheering white Rugby players of South Africa, blacks were cheering and supporting England or other visiting teams to the country. Mandela wasn't satisfied so he asked, "How do we inspire ourselves to greatness while nothing else we do?" And, he also asked, how do we inspire everyone around us to do the impossible? He then answered the questions by calling the captain of Springboks (the Rugby team), Francois Pienaar to his office. He made him understand that he'd a great task for the country. This task was to work hard with him and his government to unite all the citizens behind the Rugby team.
Pienaar, whom Matt Damon played as Mathew McConaughey in Invectus took up the challenge. He gathered his all-white team to take Rugby into black neighborhoods where little black boys became interested in the sport. They're trained and friendship established. With this effort South Africa emerged as the 1995 winner of Rugby against New Zealand. This victory came with the support of white and black for Springboks. The joy brought by the unity hence victory made Pienaar declare in an interview that, "I was proud to be South African."
Mandela’s wisdom pulled together South Africans hence the world cup showing the perseverance and greatness of the once battered people. It’s time we come together and work to bringing results that will make us say we’re proud citizens of the world.
Meanwhile, inviting South Africans to support Rugby was said to be, "A political calculation.” It's also "A human calculation," Mandela said. It's therefore this human calculation that informs the propensity that soccer will bring healing and make the world joyous.
Let's take the world stage as a soccer pitch. And all the 22 players play their heart with a mindset to win. The seriousness with which players, the two lines men and referee put into the 90 minutes game, if translated into the world stage where every sound adult play a role in the healing of the world would cause a change we can be proud of and believe in.
The fans and officials of the different teams (about 32 teams, countries in the 2010 world cup) will also actively put their hands on deck to making whatever cause players initiate come to fruition. We must understand that people make great strides to bring about the change and development the world has experienced thus far. Things don't just happen.
Human imagination, initiatives, hard work, collaboration, integrity and honesty to mention just a few have brought us this far. Imagine if all those playing soccer in South Africa, those watching at the stadia and those watching from home all over the world should come together for a common cause. The success would be like nothing we've ever experienced anywhere on earth.
Soccer even brought people within Palestine and Israeli border to watch the world cup together as was shown on CNN (June 29, 2010). We can do many great things with soccer, like other sports. With this powerful sport the world can move unhindered! Endless possibilities abound with a soccer movement. We saw Rugby did it for South Africa. The time is now, therefore, that we create a soccer movement and march from the world cup stage to all the seats of government in the world to chat a new cause for our common good.
The joy a soccer goal rocks when scored shall be the world’s joy when this movement is moved from theory to practical. The movement to save and heal the world through soccer should have similar motto Pienaar said the Rugby team used. One dream one world should be the motto instead of South Africa’s “One team one country.” And it should come sooner than later for the freedom, equality, justice and peace we seek!