“The Rainbow Team represents unity. The players come from different backgrounds, different cultures and different circumstances in South Africa. It’s almost like different worlds. Being part of the Rainbow Team we get to know one another and we can see how other people live and what their life situation is like. This is important as it helps us to understand each other better and to understand each other’s different view on things”
– Sihle Songanga, Captain of the Rainbow Team
The idea behind The Rainbow Team was born when I visited my home country, Sweden, in the summer of 2014. My son asked if we could travel with a South African team to the Gothia Cup*.
Thus, I contacted Anees Abbas back in Cape Town who is head coach of my son’s soccer club.He immediately embraced the idea of hand-picking a team of dedicated soccer players from different ethnic and economic backgrounds.
The idea was that half of the players would be sponsored and the rest were fortunate to have parents who could afford the costs.
After a successful build-up with training, lectures, friendly games, charity work and teambuilding, the boys went to Sweden in July 2015. The Rainbow Team represented South Africa in the opening ceremony in front of 58,000 spectators.
They did well in games and on the return to South Africa, I asked the parents for their views on the Rainbow Team. The answers were overwhelmingly positive. Never before had they felt such togetherness with fellow South Africans. Not only had the project given the boys a special memory to treasure for life, but it had also built bridges over the deep economic, social and cultural gaps that exist in our society.
The response from the players and the parents was enough to want to do it all over again. Thus, in both 2016 and 2017, a team was formed with past and new players.
Now, after having participated in Gothia Cup in 2015, 2016 & 2017, our aim is to take The Rainbow Team participate every year in the foreseeable future.
Cape Town is a microcosm where people of different ethnicities, social backgrounds and religions live side by side. Therefore, the Rainbow Team is much more than just soccer. Each player is asked to sign a Code of Conduct because being a good person and being dedicated to school is just as important as being a good player on the soccer field.
Growing up in South Africa, a country of huge diversity and divides, is a challenge. Therefore we have decided to support our less fortunate players as well as other soccer initiatives in South Africa. This gives players the tools that they need to become responsible, positive, tolerant and resourceful South Africans.
– Pernilla Landstedt
*The Gothia Cup www.gotiacup.se is the world’s largest youth soccer tournament. Each year, more than 1700 teams from approximately 80 nations take part and they play 4500 games on 110 fields over 6 days. It’s the teams and participants from around the world that make the tournament unique. A meeting place for the world’s youth, irrespective of religion, skin color or nationality, with soccer as the common denominator.