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A Touching Story


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Not sure how many of you have seen this up on BBC, but with the current crisis in Zimbabwe, I hope I am not straying too far into lounge material here. I thought this was, however, very relevant to CFC as a club in regards to what it is doing to promote itself overseas.

anyway, here is the link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7500598.stm

Fantasy football in Zimbabwe drama

By Jenny Horrocks

BBC African Performance

The young Zimbabwean hero of an award-winning new drama eats, sleeps and dreams Chelsea Football Club.

Fortune Mhangani, 15, is trying to escape the harsh realties of daily life in a squatter camp.

His all-time favourite player is the British player Frank Lampard and as he kicks a ball about with friends, he imagines that he is on that pitch at Stamford Bridge.

In the play, Dear Mr Lampard, Fortune's friends tease him relentlessly for his endless letter-writing to the Chelsea star.

"I don't think Mr Lampard will help you dreamer boy," one of them says.

"Nobody cares about the people of Zimbabwe. Our country is sinking fast."

They stop laughing, however, when the footballer replies and sends Fortune a ticket to an England-South Africa match in Johannesburg at Ellis Park Stadium.

But to reach the match in South Africa, Fortune's only option is to cross the border at the Limpopo River like hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans before him.

"Lurking under the water are crocodiles that can snap the legs of those that cross that river," his mother warns him.

"Fifteen of our people were pulled out of the river last month. Dead. Decomposed."

Irony

This is the story that sprang from the imagination of BBC listener South African Risenga Makondo who went on to win the 2008 BBC African Performance playwriting competition.

Many young football fans in Africa dream of playing for Chelsea

It is ironic that such a feel-good tale should be set in Zimbabwe's current climate.

But the script captured the heart of this year's judge, Zimbabwean novelist Shimmer Chinodya.

"I immediately felt this was the number one play. It grabs you emotionally," he said.

"The characters are very engaging and touching and it has great credibility. The backdrop is very contemporary - Zimbabwe in the throes of economic problems."

Mr Makondo is himself a Chelsea fan and comes from Venda near the Zimbabwe border.

"When kids there play football, they adopt players' names and there are always two or three 'Lampards' on the field," he told the BBC.

Mr Makondo was also inspired by the inclusiveness of the game.

"A teacher, a doctor, a churchman or a thief, in rest time, all sit and watch football, and we all jump at the same time," he said.

"Football is a place where we are all equal."

Mr Makondo now lives between South Africa and England, and works as a percussionist, musician and teacher of African music and dance.

From humble beginnings as a shepherd in Venda he became involved with the theatre in Johannesburg during apartheid and began performing poetry.

However, at the time he was unable to read English.

"I had a friend called Job, who used to read the lines to me and I would have to memorise them," he remembers.

And why did Mr Makondo write Dear Mr Lampard and not Dear Mr Drogba?

"Lampard is a great player and I am a Chelsea fan," he says.

"When I'm in my village in Venda and I see the kids love Lampard, I think there's nothing wrong with that.

"The play is not about race or colour, it is about human beings."

I dont want to stray into political territory by making a commentary about the situation in Zimbabwe. I think we can all agree that when the lives and well being of a country's people and the health of democratic exchange are bargained for the sake of political games, even by our own countries, its a damned shame. I feel very helpless sometimes looking at the way things are unfolding there and then seeing different countries around the world refuse to acknowledge the disgusting mockery of democracy and civil liberties going on there.

But getting back on topic: seeing this really gave me hope that maybe something like football, as it has so many times in Africa, could help improve a situation rife with political turmoil.

It also poses an important question. Are the inroads Kenyon is in charge of making around the world for Chelsea first being laid in Africa? I saw this story in battery with a BBC report on the trade of fraud agents in West Africa who sucker young African footballers into believing they are pro scouts from European clubs. But in the clip presented for that account, there were a few boys playing kickaround in behind the presenter, all three wearing Chelsea shirts.

Is this something others have noticed too? CFC becoming a global brand on the african continent thanks to the success of Essien, Drogba, Mikel and Kalou? Are we becoming a strongly African team? And most importantly in my mind, with so many young fans on the African continent, is this the perfect time for CFC to branch out with Roman's financial clout, and start drastically increasing our presence in Africa, both through scouting and youth academies, and in headline generating charity work for those in need there?

I feel like this might be an opportunity that is too big to be ignored, and that Roman, Kenyon, Buck and the entire club infrastructure should be on red alert to sieze the day on what could be a coup for good press and positive work in the world of CFC

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Well this has already started, and if our board plays the cards right, maybe Africa might become the new Eastern Europe or Brasil for the search of fresh new talent. I don't think financialy wise that Chelsea, or any other club for that matter, is looking too much in Africa, which is a shame. Most of the market now is turned to Asia, not for scouting (sorry I don't rate the Asian leagues that much), but for profit.

We could maybe take a step forward, start training camps. Bring up footballers, and at the same time help the leagues already in place. La Ligue Orange seems to have done alot of scouting in those areas, and we can thank the French clubs for making us discover some of the talent at a good price. So why not cut the middle man, and go straight to the source. The only problem that might occur is, like you mentionned, the promess of agents that a kid might make it, so he can make a quick buck of the already poor families and give false hope to some young lad who thinks he will play in Europe.

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Well this has already started, and if our board plays the cards right, maybe Africa might become the new Eastern Europe or Brasil for the search of fresh new talent. I don't think financialy wise that Chelsea, or any other club for that matter, is looking too much in Africa, which is a shame. Most of the market now is turned to Asia, not for scouting (sorry I don't rate the Asian leagues that much), but for profit.

We could maybe take a step forward, start training camps. Bring up footballers, and at the same time help the leagues already in place. La Ligue Orange seems to have done alot of scouting in those areas, and we can thank the French clubs for making us discover some of the talent at a good price. So why not cut the middle man, and go straight to the source. The only problem that might occur is, like you mentionned, the promess of agents that a kid might make it, so he can make a quick buck of the already poor families and give false hope to some young lad who thinks he will play in Europe.

In case we do buy more African players: it's never too early to think about backup during the African Cup of Nations :D !

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I dont want to stray into political territory by making a commentary about the situation in Zimbabwe. I think we can all agree that when the lives and well being of a country's people and the health of democratic exchange are bargained for the sake of political games, even by our own countries, its a damned shame. I feel very helpless sometimes looking at the way things are unfolding there and then seeing different countries around the world refuse to acknowledge the disgusting mockery of democracy and civil liberties going on there.

Is this something others have noticed too? CFC becoming a global brand on the african continent thanks to the success of Essien, Drogba, Mikel and Kalou? Are we becoming a strongly African team? And most importantly in my mind, with so many young fans on the African continent, is this the perfect time for CFC to branch out with Roman's financial clout, and start drastically increasing our presence in Africa, both through scouting and youth academies, and in headline generating charity work for those in need there?

I feel like this might be an opportunity that is too big to be ignored, and that Roman, Kenyon, Buck and the entire club infrastructure should be on red alert to sieze the day on what could be a coup for good press and positive work in the world of CFC

Simple answer more TV money and merchandising revenue is available in the Far East for Brand Chelsea FC . I think it was in last month’s onside it was highlighting the fact we run a summer school in Hawaii ? Hawaii ?????? sounds like a paid for holiday with a bit of coaching thrown in , nice work if you can get it .

That said there was also an article in regards to a visit to Jordan and Israel . We partner a charity called Right to Play and worked in Ghana with them last summer and have helped raise over £300,000 for them .

I agree we could do more but it would appear we are trying to do something

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