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Football's Freedom Fighters

When South Africa's Bafana Bafana kick the first ball of the 2010 World Cup on the 11th June in Johannesburg's revamped Soccer City stadium there will be several men in the crowd who's appreciation of the match will stretch well beyond national pride.

For Mark Shinners, Anthony Suze, Sedick Issacs, Lizo Sitoto and Sipho Tshabalala this is the completion of a long journey that started for them in the 1960s, when they first started playing the beautiful game on a rough football pitch on one of the ugliest islands on earth.

We hear how the Makana Football Association was formed, based on the principles of collective discipline and fair play. A 16-year-old Dikgang Moseneke was elected Chairman, an act that underlined the Association's commitment to excellence and FIFA-like technical rigour. We speak to Mr Moseneke, now 63 and the current Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, about how the football pitches of Robben Island were the training ground for the leaders of the future.

As the World Cup starts in South Africa, Fergal Keane travels to Robben Island with these men to the pitches where some of the country's most prominent political leaders now used football to create a space of dignity, respect and democracy at the infamous prison.

Producer: Jo Meek
An All Out production for BBC Radio 4.

Release date:

30 minutes

Last on

Mon 7 Jun 2010 20:00