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The story of Streetball, a documentary on South Africa’s 2008 – 2009 Homeless World Cup Teams

street art by Faith47

In Cape Town, there are two realities.  Sixteen years after the end of apartheid, South Africa prepares to

host the FIFA World Cup and the country is ripe with celebration.  New hot spots, airports and stadiums were built to welcome travelers from around the world. However, there remains a generation that lives in extreme poverty, with many youth falling into lives of violence, drugs and abuse.

Streetball is a fast paced documentary that tells the stories of South Africa’s 2008 Homeless World Cup team. The Homeless World Cup is an annual soccer tournament that draws teams from over 56 countries—comprised of homeless and the excluded.  The SA Squad consists of ex-convicts, former gangsters, orphans and recovering drug addicts that band together to represent their country, proving that no one is beyond redemption.   Streetball is a story of hope and of the resilience that dwells within the human spirit.   But while these mens’ dreams are simply to have a home and to be recognized as people who need care, often times the realization of those dreams is accompanied by a sobering reality.


Meet the soccer players of South Africa’s 2008 Homeless World Cup team and their leaders in the Cape Town community.

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Martin Africa grew up in Cape Town and lived on the streets since he was five years old.    After spending years in and out of prisons and gangs, Martin found out he had a son and needed to find a way out of a life of drugs and gangsterism.  In 2007, he attended trials for South Africa’s Homeless World Cup street soccer team. He was subsequently named captain of the 2008 team.
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Thapelo Kalpens grew up as an orphan , living in a youth home.  He’s a strong student and wants to attend college but is unsure of how to pay for tuition. He tried out for the Homeless World Cup team in hopes of gaining experiences and connections that would benefit his future. Thapelo made the team and was named vice-captain.

Sandile Mhlongo became an orphan when he was nine years old.  He grew up in a children’s shelter but when he turned eighteen, he was sent out to live on his own.  With no family or support, he ended up living on the streets.  He heard about trials for the Homeless World Cup team and stood out among the competition. Sandile was a top goal scorer for the 2008 Homeless World Cup team.
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Petros Nkomo, aka “Rasta,” grew up in Soweto and later moved to Cape Town.  He was an orphan at age seven and struggled to find stability for himself on the streets.  He spent some time in prison due to petty crimes and while he was there, he played soccer. He became an excellent goal keeper which made him an obvious choice for the 2008 team.

cropped images1David Abrahams is a community leader, focused on developing youth structures. He founded the Western Cape Street Soccer League in 2006, in preparation for the Homeless World Cup held that year in Cape Town.  He has since grown the league into the organization, South African Homeless Street Soccer (SAHSS) and works for the league on a volunteer basis.
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Peter Cooksen coached the 2008 Homeless World Cup team.  He works full time for organizations in the Atlantis community and volunteered for the South African Homeless Street Soccer League.  His coaching provided guidance to the players as they prepared to compete in Australia.
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Kgafela oa Magogodi
is a Spoken Word Poet and film scholar. He taught at the University of the Witwatersrand and was also a guest lecturer at New York University.    He has performed worldwide and was the first recipient of the Steve Biko Fellowship.  His work explores the social roles and media representation of Black intellectuals, as well as the significance of maintaining cultural practices to uphold a vibrant civil society.


Streetball features the work of significant up and coming–as well as established–musicians and street artists from South Africa.  Each artist donated their poetry, music and images to the film and to From Us With Love, giving Streetball a vibrant backdrop in telling the stories of South Africa’s post-apartheid generation.

Araminta de Clermont


Photo by Araminta de Clermont

Araminta de Clermont is a British born photographer who is now based out of Cape Town. Her work explores “rites of passage, and the visual currencies of group identification and formation.” Before Life her second solo show, follows Life After, which was exhibited at Joao Ferreira Gallery, and at ArtSpace, Berlin. Her work features in the  UNISA collection, in The Trustman collection,  and has been showcased throughout the US and Europe as well as in South Africa.

ETC Crew

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ETC CREW is the “Cape Town-based, multi-racial, cross-dimensional Hip Hop rap outfit you might’ve already heard of.”  Fueled by their own fresh yet energetic, jazzy, head-nodding Hip Hop sound, they are on a mission to fill a cultural and musical gap in the South African music industry. Not content to be followers in the game, they would rather do it differently, making changes on their own terms, armed with the kind of quality beats that speak to your feet and a highly comedic lyrical flow that is completely contagious. ETC Crew is here to re-adjust any kind of attitude that says Hip Hop and rap are strictly for gang bangers.


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Image by Faith47

Faith47 is a Cape Town based graffiti artist and has been adorning the streets of South Africa for over fifteen years.  Her work explores the divisions that still exist within South Africa’s communities and seeks to draw attention to the places and people that are often over looked.  Her artwork has appeared in galleries across Europe, North and South America as well as throughout Africa.


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Jitsvinger (Quintin Goliath) is one of South Africa’s fastest rising Afrikaans vernacular Hip Hop artists.  He plays acoustic and electric guitar and successfully launched his debut album, Skeletsleutel, in 2006. He has traveled the country and world, performing at various outdoor and indoor festivals, theaters, clubs, living rooms and even cordoned off streets.

In 2005, Jitsvinger was invited to facilitate a creative writing program at Robben Island.  He has performed with poet and author Antjie Krog, and poets Kgafela oa Magododi and Comrade Fatso. He traveled and collaborated with Khoisan praise poet, Jethro Louw, performing traditional cultural music in the Taiwanese cities of Tainan and Taipei. In mid-2008, he traveled to Switzerland as part of the inter-continental Rogue State of Mind project where he performed and recorded with fellow artists from Switzerland and South Africa.  Jitsvinger has been working on his follow-up album due for release in 2009.


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Kgafela oa Magogodi is a Spoken Word Poet, Spoken Word Theater director and film scholar. He has taught at the University of the Witwatersrand School of the Arts as a lecturer in African Cinema, Oral Performance and Rap/Dub Poetry Studies and has also been a guest lecturer at New York University.  He directs and produces original Spoken Word Theater and his productions have included “Itchy City,” “Warsoil,” “Bread,” and “Blood.”

Kgafela has written several screenplays and produced his feature length film, I Mic What I Like, in 2006.  He has performed worldwide and was the first recipient of the Steve Biko Fellowship. His work explores the social roles and media representation of Black intellectuals, as well as the significance of maintaining cultural practices to uphold a vibrant civil society.


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The Rudimentals are an eight-piece ska/reggae band that have been described as a “South African Institution.” The band released its first CD, “More Fire,” in October, 2003 and the hit song “Noh TV” won a National Bronze Stone award for best music video. In 2004, the band was voted “Best Reggae and Ska Band” in South Africa, by nationally popular Blunt Magazine.

In 2006, the band released their second CD entitled, “Set It Proper.” The CD fuses Ska, Reggae, Dub, Dancehall, Rock, African Mbaquanga and Jazz into what is now known as Afro-Ska. Sponsors include Cape Audio College, Township Guitars, Moskow Clothing and Critik Shoes.  In 2007, the Band was signed for their first CD, “More Fire”, with Moonskaworld UK.


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Gwen Ansell of Business Day claimed, “(UjU’s) compositions are memorable and the playing rather better than it needs to be. Whatever this new kind of popular music ends up being called, UjU does it exceedingly well.”

Today’s incarnation of the band was crystallized at a twelve-hour jam session in early March, 2004. Led by spiritual leader of the band, Ntuthu Ndlovu (poet and vocals), UjU has a sound that is distinctly their own, mixing strong Mbaqanga rhythms with modern Jazz and Hip Hop.  UjU – Zulu for Honey – writes with a heightened consciousness, informed by critical social, economic and political issues.  They aim to bring about the entirely new and distinctly South African sound that represents their generation.  As they say, “Nothing cheesy here but always self-referential and ironic.”


The production team for Streetball is a cross-cultural, cross-continental crew that hail from Canada, South Africa and the United States. Meet the director and the producers and learn a bit more about their stories that lead to the making of Streetball.


Michael Smith, Producer/Story

Executive Director, From Us With Love

Michael Smith was born in Johannesburg and spent the first years of his life in the Old Houghton community.  The ‘60s and ‘70s were turbulent times in South Africa and thus his American-born parents ultimately moved his family out of South Africa while he was still young.

Michael began his phone book business and found great success.   Always politically minded, when Hurricane Katrina hit the coast of New Orleans, he felt if he didn’t take action, he would lose the right to continue discussing and critiquing cultural issues concerning social change.  He and his brother then organized donations from their neighbors and packed up a truck of supplies to drive down to New Orleans.

These experiences proved to be significant and led Michael to begin the organization, From Us With Love (FUWL).  While in New Orleans, he observed that there were many local organizations that had great passion for their work as well as understood the needs in their community.  What they lacked, however, was adequate funding and access to the resources and information that were available around them.  From Us With Love wanted to fill in these gaps.

This took Michael back to the place of his birth.  FUWL began work in the townships of the Western Cape and joined forces with nursery schools and orphanages, providing specifically what these organizations shared they needed, rather than beginning a new organization all together.  This not only met the unique needs of these communities but it also provided a formula to achieve significant developments with minimal administrative needs.

One of the projects closest to Michael’s heart was the work of the street soccer program in Cape Town.  Alongside of his then-photographer, Demetrius Wren, he got to know the stories of the players in the league and believed they were of significance and should be shared with a broader audience.  Having grown up drawn to the arts, Michael has found his involvement in Streetball a rewarding experience and looks forward to future creative endeavors.


Demetrius Wren, Director, Co-Producer

Demetrius Wren began his artistic training at an early age after enrolling in the Davidson Fine Arts School in Augusta, Georgia. Davidson provided eight years of study in music, dance, drama and video.  While in high school, Demetrius worked and volunteered for the Jewish Community Center in his hometown, working predominantly with special needs students. He has taught saxophone lessons and tutored at local schools in Augusta.

Following Augusta, Demetrius completed a dual studies degree in classical music and motion picture production at Florida State University before moving to New York. While in New York, he served as an assistant writer to Steven Sater for the Tony Award winning musical, “Spring Awakening.”  He spent several months working closely with Robert Wilson at the Watermill Center and has written and directed his original play, “Legends, Myths and Hieroglyphs,” which will soon be turned into a feature film.
His original work centers around the stories of children and youth and, in particular, highlights the stories of often overlooked young people. He taught workshops at the Florida State University Graduate Acting Conservatory in Acting for the Camera for first and second year grad students. Film highlights include the short film Of My God, charitable work for and From Us With Love, as well as other music videos and art films.


Christina Ghubril, Writer, Co-Producer

Christina Ghubril began theater training when she was seven and while in high school, started to devise and direct original pieces of work.  She went on to receive her BFA in Drama and Pan African Studies from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.  At Wits, she studied Arts and Culture in Post-Apartheid South Africa. While at NYU, she studied at the Collaborative Arts Project of the 21st Century, the Experimental Theatre Wing and at Stonestreet Film and Television Studios.

Christina grew up on the Northside of Pittsburgh, in a family committed to urban community development. She has volunteered in her community through home repair, tutoring, arts education programs and supplemental education programs, beginning these experiences while in kindergarten.  As she developed as an artist, she began to focus her work around using the arts and storytelling to empower young people to develop their voices and to understand the significance in their own unique stories.  She has worked predominantly in communities that struggle with issues of poverty and violence.

In 2007, she directed Still Speaking, an original, multi-media, devised theater piece on Pittsburgh’s Northside community. She also worked with New York’s Opening Act, teaching and directing devised theater to students in underserved Brooklyn high schools.  She has taught performance and writing workshops to middle and high school students throughout the country and assisted in the development of teen-girl programming at Girl Scouts of the USA.  She has performed professionally in film, television, music videos and in live theater.


Mike Mastrocinque, Associate Producer

Operations Manager, From Us With Love

Mike Mastrocinque became Operations Manager for From Us With Love in June of 2007.  Prior to beginning his career with From Us With love, Mike visited South Africa on two occasions as a tourist developing a deep love for the beauty, culture and people of South Africa.  Mike’s curiosity of the Townships that are scattered across the country could not be contained and he requested that his guide take him for a tour one afternoon.  The tour guide suggested visiting a pre-school and stopping along the way to purchase sweets for the children.  ”Spending time with the children at the pre-school and the people of that community prepared my heart for the position I am in, which came several months later.”

In the early Summer of 2007, From Us With Love Founder, Michael Smith, asked Mike if he would consider traveling to South Africa to build relationships with organizations helping to bring change to the country.  Mike accepted and From Us With Love began to model Compassionate Humanitarianism to children and families living in South Africa through Education, Health Services, Nutrition, Sport and Cultural Arts.


Taryn Aveley, Associate Producer

Regional Coordinator, From Us With Love

Taryn Aveley grew up in Cape Town.  She is married with two children and now resides in Knysna in the Western Cape Province.  From a young age, Taryn knew that she had a purpose.  In 1994–when she was fourteen years old–she was involved in a Church massacre while South Africa was going through political changes.  At that moment, Taryn realized there was a reason for her to be in the world and so shifted her goals to center around serving others.  For Taryn, one of the biggest lessons learned in her life is to have compassion and will.

Taryn started working for FUWL in 2007.  Within the last two years, she has identified various needs in the Knysna community and obtained assistance for those who struggle to support themselves.  For Taryn, working for FUWL has shown her that there is always a way to help change someone’s life, no matter how big or small one’s impact may seem. Through the various projects she has been involved in, she has learned that there are some challenges that we all face that we cannot face on our own.  Representing FUWL has been a fulfilling and rewarding opportunity for her.

For Taryn, a highlight of working with FUWL is assisting the Street Soccer program. In particular, a proud moment was in September, 2009 when the SA team arrived back from Milan, Italy.  Taryn was present to welcome them home at Parliament in Cape Town and seeing the acknowledgment the players received was an overwhelming experience.  Having witnessed this program first hand, Taryn feels strongly that through something like Street Soccer, the lives of young people can be transformed.  Street Soccer has given these young men hope and courage and has shown them what value they have as people.  Through this film about Street Soccer, her hope is that people will see, feel and understand the journey these young men take and witness how the program has affected their lives.  She hopes that when people see Streetball, their perceptions of street kids will be changed; that the viewers will be captivated and place themselves in these characters’ shoes, and that audiences will develop an understanding of the brave journey these young men have taken.  Most of all, she would like people to approach this film with an open heart and mind and to draw on their compassion in order to understand the difficulties of others–and how such difficulties can be overcome.


Behind the scenes stories of producing the feature documentary, Streetball.

STREETSOCCER_DOC_23_  6822Streetball was funded by South African PBO (Public Benefit Organization) and United States 501(c)3 public charity From Us With Love (FUWL).  With little to no experience in the film industry, but a passion to share the triumphs and tragedies of the 2008/2009 South African Homeless World Cup Teams, Streetball began production in July of 2008.

FUWL asked filmmaker, Demetrius Wren to join them in South Africa in February of 2008 to photograph and make short documentary videos of their ongoing projects.  While spending time with the South African Homeless Street Soccer League, President, David Abrahams suggested that Wren make a full length documentary film about street soccer.  Wren shared Abrahams request with FUWL Founder, Michael Smith and Smith agreed.  Within a few weeks, FUWL approved funding for Streetball.

Streetball was made by a crew of only two. Demetrius Wren and Christina Ghubril shot, wrote, interviewed, directed, edited, photographed, sound mixed, researched, graphic designed, and composed the elements that make up the film under the direction of Executive Producer, Michael Smith, who also founded FUWL in April of 2007.

Thanks to modern technology, two 25 year olds with a lot of passion could complete a film in their living room.  Streetball was edited, sound designed and graphic designed on a Mac, using all Mac programs.

FUWL’s strong relationships with organizations involved with the street soccer league, gave Wren and Ghubril full access to the staff and players.  Wren and Ghubril would often leave the cameras behind and spend time getting to know the players and the Cape Town community.  The friendships that formed made it comfortable to hold conversational interviews and hang out at ease while a camera was around

Without a full crew or imposing equipment, Wren and Ghubril gained access into places and stories that are not often open to “outsiders” or media. Also, without Martin Africa, much of Streetball would not exist. He took Wren and Ghubril into locations that housed local gangs and to where many street people lived.  Once, Ghubril watched a man twirl a gun at them while filming in the Quarry but he put it down when he saw Martin with the crew.  On Long Street, Martin was told by some kids that if he wasn’t with the crew, they would’ve stolen the cameras.

Ghubril wanted to highlight South African musicians and artists in the film, to give context to the vibrant post-apartheid culture and generation. Wren was inspired by the “Take-Away Videos” — one-shot music videos of bands performing live in their community locations.  The two combined their ideas and brought South African musicians into the fabric of the film.

While finishing her undergrad in Johannesburg, Ghubril met Wandile Molebetsi of UjU, and would frequent UjU’s concerts each week.  Kgafela oa Magogodi was her professor at NYU and at the University of the Witwatersrand.  On her spring break in Cape Town, Ghubril visited the District 6 museum where she was moved by Faith47’s artwork.  Jitsvinger, the Rudimentals and ETC Crew, were found on myspace.  They all generously donated their time, music and artwork to From Us With Love for Streetball.  All proceeds from the film and soundtrack will go to fund From Us With Love’s ongoing projects to bring about hope in South Africa.

From Us With Love

From Us With Love, the non-profit organization that was behind the making of Streetball.

“South Africa has more than 1,000 children that are being orphaned daily with a current estimate of 1 million children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS. This will increase to approximately 2 million by 2010 and in Africa, to over 40 million.” (ABB South Africa)

From Us With Love

From Us With Love (FUWL) became aware of street soccer and the Homeless World Cup, an international event for the sport, during the summer of 2007 in South Africa.  They learned that entrance can’t be gained into the lives of people who live on the streets as easily with knowledge and wisdom as with a soccer ball. FUWL wanted to share the excitement of the sport and the triumphs and tragedies of those who play it.  From Us With Love proudly presents Streetball, a documentary film following the 2008/2009 South African Homeless World Cup teams.

FUWL is a registered 501 c3 Public Charity in the United States and a registered Public Benefit Organization (PBO) in South Africa.  FUWL works closely with other organizations that serve the needs of impoverished South Africans in order to provide the most effective aid possible.

One of the projects FUWL sponsors is South Africa’s Homeless World Cup street soccer league.  FUWL believed the stories of the players in the league were significant and believed that sharing them through a documentary is a powerful way to spread the word about homelessness and the plight of many South African youth.

FUWL recognizes the basic worth of every person – that we are all more alike than we are different, and that we all deserve care and support.  FUWL operates out of the belief that we are part of a very interconnected world, and improving viability for communities anywhere strengthens human viability everywhere.  Also, by focusing on improving education, health services, good nutrition, cultural arts, sports and voluntourism opportunities, FUWL invests in a brighter future for humanity.