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FIFA president praises football film

The world premiere of the film, More Than Just A Game kicked off the weekend of activities surrounding the Preliminary Draw of the 2010 FIFA World Cup at the International Convention Centre in Durban last week. At the event, guest of honour FIFA president Joseph S Blatter presented a certificate of honorary membership of FIFA to the Robben Island football league, the Makana Football Association.

The film tells the dramatic and little-known story of organised football played among prisoners on Robben Island.

Accepting the certificate were former chairmen of the association, deputy chief justice of South Africa, Dikgang Moseneke, politician and business personality, Tokyo Sexwale and the five former prisoners through whom the story of More Than Just a Game is told, namely Tony Suze, Lizo Sitoto, Mark Shinners, Sedick Isaacs and Marcus Solomon.

Speaking about the film, Blatter said, “Tonight is a night of memory – memory of the amazing history of the Makana Football Association, founded on Robben Island along FIFA rules, principles and statutes; and this memory of playing football, more importantly to create on this island, a space of dignity, respect and democracy.

“Celebration of football”

“It is also a night of the celebration of football, this universal game of passion and emotion for billions of fans for whom it is much more than just a game, since it unites us in a world which is increasingly becoming more divided. The football values of solidarity, democracy, discipline and respect for all should be more than ever preserved, protected and fought for. This is the lesson of the Makana Football Association and the lesson of football played on Robben Island as we see in More Than Just A Game. I would like to praise the producer of this movie, Anant Singh; the director, Junaid Ahmed, the actors and all those who made this movie a reality.”

The event was attended by a group of high profile personalities from Government, the arts and the football fraternity. Deputy president Pumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was a guest of honour along with Blatter. Also in attendance were ministers Essop Pahad, Jeff Radebe, Makhenkesi Stofile; deputy minister Aziz Pahad; KZN premier Sbu Ndebele; KZN MECs Zweli Mkize, Ina Cronje and Mtholephi Mthimkhulu; mayor and deputy mayor of Durban, Obed Mlaba and deputy, Logie Naidoo.

Danny Jordaan, CEO of the FIFA 2010 Local Organising Committee, commented, “It was just wonderful to have the international audience here to share some insight into our struggle and our history.”


Singh said, “We are thrilled to have had the World Premiere of More Than Just A Game in front of an audience of the local and international football world, but more importantly people who have contributed so greatly to South Africa's struggle for freedom and democracy... We thank FIFA and the SA 2010 Local Organising Committee for the opportunity to showcase our film during the Preliminary Draw weekend.”

• More Than Just A Game is a Videovision Entertainment production in association with Telkom Media, Filmex, Distant Horizon, and the National Film and Video Foundation of South Africa. The film stars Presley Chweneyagae, Wright Ngubeni, Az Abrahams, Tshepo Maseko and Merlin Balie. It is executive produced by Sudhir Pragjee and Sanjeev Singh and produced by Anant Singh and Helena Spring with Chuck Korr, Lord Ted Rowlands, Double Jab Productions and Hannelie Bekker co-producing. The score is composed by Vusi Mahlasela and Brendan Jury. The screenplay is written by Tom Eaton and it is directed by Junaid Ahmed.

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