News from the World Cup squad:-
Hi there, my name is Martin Africa, and at 32 years old I am the captain of the South African team competing in Milan. First of all I want to thank everyone who has made our trip possible. I can’t believe I am actually on the way, really this time, as I have had so many disappointments in the past.
Last year I was also chosen as captain, but I wasn’t able to get my identity documents through in time. This year I had a lot of help from Home Affairs in Cape Town, especially from Mts Jacqueline Englebrecht, so I had everything sorted, but then we had the problem with our airline tickets.Thanks to you guys, I can now believe I will be in Italy in a weeks’ time. It’s no longer just a dream.
We have been training for this event for nearly six months now, and we’re very fit. Our training sessions are daily, and involve every weekend. There will be eight players travelling, seven in-field players and one goalkeeper. When we play in teams it is four-a-side, with 7 minutes play each end – a full game is 15 minutes. It is fast and furious, so we have to make sure we can score accurately and quickly. We will be playing three games a day, and as the oldest in the team, the pressure is on me to perform… I am always getting teased about my age, and have earnt the nickname ‘old man’.
All of us come from the Cape Town area, and have spent the majority of our lives living on the streets. We have been involved in gangsterism, drugs and alcohol, and soccer has provided us with the drive and opportunity we have needed to change our lives for the better. Myself, I lived on the streets for 21 years, and was in and out of prison many times. I have been shot four times, attacked by a panga, stabbed by knives more times than I can remember, and was a member of the notorious 28 number gang.
Today I have put my past behind me, and I am looking forward to a better future for myself, and my son Renault, who is 4 years old. I want to save some of the money I will get as a subsistence allowance in Italy so that when I come back I can take my drivers’ test and get a good job. Football will always be my passion, and has been responsible, as well as my involvement with MyLifE, a charitable project here in Cape Town, in changing my life forever.
Thank you so much again