South Africa is in mourning after the death of Senzo Meyiwa who was killed on Sunday evening during a robbery at his girlfriend’s house in Vosloorus, Johannesburg. Meyiwa was the captain of local Parktown team, Orlando Pirates, and was the goalkeeper for Bafana Bafana, South Africa’s national soccer team. It is heartbreaking news, and we send our deepest condolences to Meyiwa’s family, friends and teammates.
Originally from Umlazi in KwaZulu-Natal, Meyiwa is a great example of the power of sport to transform lives. One World Futbol is an organisation that sees sport, and in particular soccer, as a means of providing relief for children from disadvantaged communities. They believe that play “is a necessity of life—children need to play to learn and grow. In play, every child is a superhero, dreams can be realized, traumatic moments are temporarily forgotten and healing can begin—that is the power of play.”
After seeing television footage of refugees in Darfur playing soccer with a ball that they had been made by tying rubbish together with string, inventor Tim Jahnigen saw the need for an indestructible football that could be played on rough terrains without bursting. So the One World Futbol Project was born. For every ball that is purchased the project donates a second ball to communities in need. Individuals and corporates also have the option of donating balls directly to organisations working with youth in disadvantaged communities, such as refugee camps, war zones, disaster areas and inner cities.
While we process what’s happened to one of our soccer greats, perhaps we can also think about what this sport means to South Africa, and the potential that it has to change lives, just as it did with Senzo Meyiwa. Lala Kahle Senzo, you will be missed.