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  • Norman Brook

Sport and employment: future hopes for South African youth

Norman Brook looks at the problems of deprivation among South African youth in the Cape Flats, and argues that while sports initiatives can help some, widespread youth unemployment and poverty are driving a violent gang culture that only economic development can solve.


Africa is ready to host the Olympic Games for the first time, despite prejudice against its capabilities, says Issa Hayatou, president of the Confederation of African Football.

In an interview conducted by CNN at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2013, Hayatou identified five countries in Africa that could host the Olympic Games. However, it was 2013 AFCON and 2010 FIFA World Cup hosts, South Africa, that he put first on the contender list, stating: “South Africa can definitely organise the Olympic Games, with its infrastructure, hotels, communications and transport.”

Given South Africa’s success in hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and that it is one of the larger emerging markets, it would be reasonable to expect that it might join BRICS partners Brazil, Russia, India and China in bidding for a major multi-sport event, such as the Commonwealth or Olympic Games.

South Africa is, however, a country that is facing major social challenges, and many would argue that there are more pressing investment priorities than an expensive Olympic Games. Tackling poverty, unemployment and inequality are at the top of this list.

Poverty, unemployment and inequality are not problems that are unique to South Africa. According to the International Labour Organisation, young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults, and more than 75 million young people worldwide are looking for work. Educated young people living in poverty, with no prospects of employment, living alongside people earning good salaries and with high living standards, represent a recipe for potential conflict and unrest.

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