June 16th, 2010
06:53 PM ET

Kids play most southerly World Cup

Struisbaai, South Africa - Struisbaai seems as long way from gleaming stadiums of the World Cup. The Southern tip of Africa is known as the Cape of Storms and its living up to its name.

Icy rain cuts into the skin and waves pound the rock outcroppings of this bleak and beautiful coast. But here, at the foot of the continent, the World Cup spirit is alive.

"We have our own little World Cup here right at the Southern most tip of Africa," said Clementine Arendse, one of the tournament organizers.

Bundled up in extra socks and woollen hats, the children of Struisbaai spent a week playing soccer, learning skills, and keeping active. A church group from Cape Town has been conducting the camp for more than five years.

When the weather gets too cold, they just move into the community hall where hand drawn posters of David Beckham, Kaka, and erm, Robbie Keane hang from the rafters.

Here, there is no controversy with the vuvuzela, South Africa's noisy fan horn. It is blasted by the kids and adults with glee.

"I think it is really cool that it is happening in South Africa this year. We haven't been to Cape Town yet, but the spirit is alive here as well, even though we don't see the matches and stuff and everything is so alive on television," said Robyn Arendse, 18.

South African schools have closed for the duration of the World Cup, leaving communities sometimes struggling to find their children something to do. And in Struisbaai, that can be particularly vital.

The town is economically depressed and in the winter there are few tourists and fewer jobs, say community leaders.

In a country where more than one-quarter of the population is unemployed, small communities like this have been particularly hard hit.

"A big issue here in Struisbaai is the alcohol," said Ryan, 14. "Most people are drinking day and night. They just drink the whole time. And the children suffer because of that."

So, for a week in June, the children of Struisbaai come here, to the Southern most field in Africa to celebrate soccer and forget the realities of their world.

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Celeb76

    Bravo David McKenzie,

    You just confirmed every ignorant perspective that the world has always had about South Africa as a country and Africa as a continent. Out of all places you could have chosen to showcase what South Africa has to offer, you drive through dirt roads and dodgy little rivers. I got news for you – the whole international media has beat you to it. If you wanna be original, why don't you broadcast beautiful places in the country that have never been seen before? Oh wait, I got it – ratings will drop! I'm sure you've had lots of emails and tweets asking you how you cope living in a rural village with no running water and no electricity!

    June 16, 2010 at 11:33 pm | Reply

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