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MORE THAN JUST A GAME (article first published : 2007-11-24)

The world premiere of the film, More Than Just A Game, which tells the dramatic and little-known story of organised football played among prisoners on Robben Island will take place at the occasion of the Preliminary Draw of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in Durban on November 23 at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.

Produced by Anant Singh and Helena Spring, the film is directed by Junaid Ahmed and stars Presley Chweneyagae (Tsotsi) and Wright Ngubeni (Generations).

Told through the stories of five former prisoners, More Than Just A Game focuses on how political activists who were unjustly imprisoned on Robben Island in the 1960s rose above their incarceration by creating a football league, the Makana Football Association (Makana FA). In this way, they found an outlet for their passion and commitment to discipline through football.

Last week, producer Anant Singh pre-screened the film for executives of the world governing body of football in Zurich and met FIFA President, Joseph S Blatter, who commented, “What happened on Robben Island was a revealing example showing that football is much more than just a game. For the "Freedom fighters", it was about dignity, respect, fun and hope in a space where humanity was surviving in the middle of oppression and infamy. In the world of today so divided and so unfair, football can teach us a lot on the universality and the solidarity embodied in the values and principles of our sport. The docu-drama More Than Just A Game is a beautiful project that FIFA is proud to support."

Producer Anant Singh comments: “More Than Just A Game is a story about human beings trying to succeed against all odds and to survive using football as their inspiration. The film is a tribute to the people on Robben Island who fought for the privilege to play football. We appreciate the support of FIFA and the 2010 FIFA World Cup Local Organising Committee for the opportunity to showcase our film at the Preliminary Draw. The film demonstrates the continent’s love for the game, validating the FIFA World Cup finally coming to Africa in 2010.

Durban will be abuzz with activity from November 22 to 25 with more than 2,000 people descending on the city. The film premiere will be attended by the original five Robben Islanders on whom the film is based, i.e. Mark Shinners, Anthony Suze, Lizo Sitoto, Sedick Isaacs and Marcus Solomon, as well as the actors that play them – Presley Chweneyagae, Wright Ngubeni, Az Abrahams, Tshepo Maseko and Merlin Balie. Also in attendance will be soccer legends such as Michel Platini and Franz Beckenbauer as well as representatives of more than 100 football associations and a large contingent of international media.

The film will be released at more than 50 screens nationally in South Africa through United International Pictures (South Africa) in December 2007. The 2010 FIFA World Cup, the first to be staged on African soil, will be held in South Africa from June 11 through July 11.

More Than Just A Game is a Videovision Entertainment production in association with Telkom Media, Filmex (Pty) Ltd, Distant Horizon, and the National Film and Video Foundation of South Africa.




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