With all the excitement and media coverage on the Fifa 2010 World Cup, there has been little attention given to children’s views on its impact and benefits. The article in The Star, “Legacy for the next Bafana generation” (07/10/2009, p. 13) by Lebogang Seale and photography by Dumisani Sibeko, provides in-depth coverage of children’s views on access to the new stadiums Fifa has built and lack of football infrastructure in their community.
The journalist presents a well balanced article and interviews local children from the township, the national Under-17 team players as well as local adult residents. In taking this approach, the journalist recognises children as equal members of society and gives them the opportunity to air their views according to their rights 1.
The article reports on the views of children from Makwarela Township on the state of the art soccer pitches from FIFA that they apparently have no access to in their community. The children are given the opportunity to express their opinions on the sport they have a passion for and their aspirations to play for the national team.
The children from the township are named, pictured and portrayed in a positive light as possessing the outstanding skills for them to make it into the national team, regardless of the lack of infrastructure they currently face.
Players from the national Under-17 team reveal their delight in having access to the new stadium and the benefits it has on their level of play. Local residents’ views on empty government promises are highlighted and the journalist protects the identity of the man being interviewed.
Important issues and questions to local governing bodies and Safa are raised through this article on the extent to which local communities, particularly children and young people, are benefiting from the Fifa stadiums. The article suggests that currently only national teams are able to use these new facilities.
The lack of infrastructure in local communities is highlighted through the photographs by Dumisani Sibeko, as they clearly show the children playing in dusty, unkempt fields whilst there is a facility within their reach but not their grasp.
The headline, “Legacy for the next Bafana generation”, is a positive yet thought provoking one as the article reveals who may be the true beneficiary of the Fifa legacy.
The Star has done exceptional work in bringing to light issues around the World Cup that affect communities, particularly children. Children were given the voice to highlight the apparent imbalance of the benefits this sporting showcase is meant to bring. Lebogang Seale and Dumisani Sibeko are to be commended for their thought provoking approach to a hot topic that many communities can relate to.
1 Children have a right to express their thoughts and opinions freely. This right is contained in Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which South Africa is a signatory to. For a summary, see Media Monitoring Project (MMP) and Institute for the Advancement of Journalism (IAJ). 2005. A Resource Kit for Journalists: Children’s Media Mentoring Project. MMP and IAJ: Johannesburg, p. 12.