29 April 2019 – Over the past few days we celebrated Freedom Day as South Africans. A day which encapsulates our dreams and aspirations as well as the remembrance of our fallen freedom fighters including our dark painful history. Although we might continue to face certain challenges as a country, we shouldn’t forget how we can use sports as a tool for the conscientization of South Africans and as a tool for social change.

For many young football playing South Africans in the country, football remains a hope and a dream which they carry in their hearts on a daily basis, a sport which can turn their dreams into a reality as well as help them fight the societal ills we face. With the little they have, playing the game in the dusty streets of our townships has never been an issue, they continue making football a priority which to them is the epitome of freedom.

We should also not forget how football in the country for many young South Africans, who fill up our train stations and taxi ranks to fulfil their dreams, football to them remains their only hope out of poverty for them and their families and it remains a dream of a better future.

Although to many of us freedom might totally mean different things, it might mean the total opposite to some but we shouldn’t forget how football has given a sense of freedom to many South Africans. To witness on daily basis South Africans playing the game not only in the development structures of their football clubs, at schools, but as well as in our villages with nothing but combined plastics turned into a makeshift ball with nothing but smiles on their faces, which portrays a true sense of mental freedom.

Football in South Africa holds a very special place in the hearts of many, it’s a sport where we see ourselves through and a sport which has given us a rollercoaster of emotions over the years. But one cannot continue to speak out the beautiful game without speaking about the fans which make the game worth watching.

Let’s also take a moment to reflect about how with all the socio economic issues facing our country, the supporters continue going to stadiums in pursuit of happiness and entertainment. It remains an escape away from the painful reality for many.

Who can ever forget the electrifying 80,000 fans who filled up the FNB Stadium to watch Bafana Bafana lift up the 1996 edition of the African Cup of Nations, or how we all celebrated in jubilation dancing up and down our streets when we were announced as the official hosts of the 2010 FIFA WORLD CUP.

With all the above said, we should continue fighting for freedom and using football as a means to change our societies and the realities of many South Africans who to them football remains a theatre of dreams.

By Modibe Modiba. Modiba is a Social Media strategist