Sports legends tour South Africa's Alex township
Tue Nov 7, 2:32 PM
JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - A group of international sporting legends paid a visit to one of South Africa's most famous townships where they urged youngsters to dodge a life of poverty by chasing their sporting dreams.
Tennis greats Martina Navratilova and Monica Seles as well as former Manchester United captain Bobby Charlton were among the stars who joined in a series of impromptu games, including an egg and spoon race, at the Alexandra township where levels of crime and poverty are some the highest in the country.
"Most of these kids are not as fortunate as we were, and are exposed to lots of mischieves including crime," said legendary Indian cricketing allrounder Kapil Dev.
"Being around them and making them happy reminds them that they are the important part of the future, and it keeps them away from many bad things. It is also fullfilling for us to see them smiling. If they are happy, we are happy."
Navratilova said that sport was a great way to break down walls in a country still trying to cope with the legacy of the apartheid era.
"Sport is a great medium for breaching all kinds of differences, cultural and in colour," said the former US and Wimbledon champion.
"This is a great opportunity for kids to get together in a positive environment. Develop qualities that will help them later in life."
Twelve-year-old Paul Mabaso said that it was a dream come true for him to meet so many sporting heroes in one go.
"Being around these people is good and it helps me to stay out of crime, not steal," the youngster told AFP.
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Tennis great Monica Seles participates in a game during the Laureus World Sports Academy forum held in Johannesburg November 7, 2006. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (SOUTH AFRICA)
Retired Grand Slam Tennis Champion Martina Navratilova attends the Laureus Academy Forum in Johannesburg's Alexander Township as part of a tour by international sporting legends to urge youngsters to dodge a life of poverty by chasing their sporting dreams. Foto:Fati Moalusi/AFP