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Offside exhibition opens in Cape Town

The 'Offside' exhibition about South African footballers in the UK and discrimination in sport is now open at the District Six Museum Homecoming Centre in Cape Town and is attracting enthusiastic feedback from visitors. The exhibition is the  result of a collaboration project between FURD and Kick it Out in the UK and the British Council and District Six Museum in Cape Town.

'Offside' was formally opened on Tuesday 15th June with speakers at times competing to be heard against the sound of vuvuzelas from the streets outside. Former England player Paul Elliott, now an ambassador for Kick It Out, said "We have to talk about the past to have the fullest appreciation of the past and the future".

Norman Arendse the President of  the South African Football Association in Cape Town, an anti-apartheid activist in the 70s and 80s, commented that "It's sports, arts and culture that unite nations and bring people together' and that if it wasn't for the work of sports organisations such as SANROC (South Africa Non-Racial Olympic Committee) in the struggle against apartheid, South Africa would not have been able to host the World Cup.

Nicola Brewer, the British High Commissioner, said, "the powerful and shocking story that the exhibiton tells is important for all of us. It needs to stay shocking so we can understand how far we've come and how much further we still have to go".

A message of support was read out from the daughters of former Leeds star Albert Johanneson, one of the players featured in the exhibition.

On Wednesday 16th June another opening event was held for two groups of people.

One group were former residents of District Six who were forcibly evicted from their homes when it was declared a whites-only area in the 1960s. Many of these people are now actively involved in the life of the museum, which also acts as a social centre for former neighbours who lost touch when they were forced to move to various outlying townships.

The other group were young people who were invited to commemorate National Youth Day in South Africa. 16th June is a public holiday to mark the anniversary of the Soweto uprising in 1976, when over 600 young people were killed when they protested against the apartheid education system. As District Six's Mandy Sanger noted,

"If it wasn't for their sacrifice, we wouldn't be sititng here today enjoying the World Cup".

The event included entertainment from rappers, singers and storytellers as well as speeches and tours of the exhibition.

'Offside' is open daily, except Sundays, at the D6M Homecoming Centre on Buitenkant St, opposite the entrance to the Fan Fest.

Paul Elliott with former District Six residents
Paul Elliott with former District Six residents at the Offside exhibition
Offside!
Offside!
Ex-Charlton player Eddie Firmani
Ex-Charlton player Eddie Firmani
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