Streetball documentary tells the other side of the World Cup
A documentary depicting homeless teenagers in Cape Town has accused authorities of hiding poor people away from tourists ahead of the World Cup. The film, Streetball, says that: “In the run-up to the World Cup, over 1500 families have been violently evicted from their houses in informal settlements … forced into a temporary relocation area outside of the city where it’s nearly impossible to make money or find food.”
The documentary tells the story of teenagers from Cape Town who represented the country at the Homeless World Cup soccer tournament in Australia in 2008.
It was shot by US filmmaker Demetrius Wren over two years in Cape Town, Melbourne and Milan.
The film was shown to Portuguese soccer great Cristiano Ronaldo.
Said Mike Mastrocinque from the NGO, From Us with Love: “He called us with tears in his eyes and said the hairs on the back of his neck were standing up.
“He asked us how he could help.”
The film will be shown at the New York African Film Festival; the African, Asian, and Latin American Film Festival in Milan; and the Arizona Black Film Festival.
Proceeds from the film will help fund this year’s trials for the Homeless World Cup, to be played in Rio de Janeiro, said Mastrocinque. “The trials should be happening right now, but there is no funding …
“We’re also hoping that we could introduce a programme where the 30 selected in the trials could be housed in a camp in (Cape Town) for the year, though only eight will make it to the tournament.
“The South African Homeless Street Soccer League really only focused on preparing the team for the Homeless World Cup.
“When they come back they have no support and they end up in the streets and back on drugs,” he said.
In the documentary, poet and academic Kgafela oa Magogodi appeals passionately to the government to care for the poor. Of the group of eight who played in Melbourne in 2008, only the captain, Thapelo Kalpens, is studying – a mechanical engineering course at Cape College in Cape Town.
“Sandile, who was in the same group as him, was arrested for breaking into cars,” Mastrocinque said.
“What they need is mentorship as well as pre- and post-tournament help,” he said.