The power of imagination

first_imgJustice MalalaSometime back I was asked, during a panel discussion on the 2010 Fifa World Cup, whether the South African national football team stood a chance of winning the trophy.Like everyone else on the panel, I laughed at the possibility and said we had better concentrate on other things, such as ensuring that we make this the best and safest tournament in the history of the World Cup. A win? No way, I said.The next day, a Sunday morning, I was sitting in my house when US swimmer Michael Phelps won his eighth Olympic gold medal of the Beijing Games. His win meant he beat Mark Spitz’s 1972 record of seven gold medals in a single mounting of the games.It was a phenomenal week for Phelps, and among the things he said that day were a few lines that stuck in my mind.“Nothing is impossible. With so many people saying it couldn’t be done, all it takes is an imagination, and that’s something I learned and something that helped me,” he said.It was that word imagination that was key. A few weeks before my panel discussion I had lunch with South African football chief – and the man responsible for bringing the 2010 extravaganza to our shores – Danny Jordaan at his offices in the shadow of the impressive new Soccer City stadium just outside Johannesburg.The stadium will be the home of the final of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.Jordaan believes that imagination is what makes great things happen. He gave me the example of the South African Oscar Pistorius, the inspirational double amputee world record holder in the 100-, 200- and 400-metre sprinting events.Pistorius was born with congenital absence of the fibula in both legs. When he was 11 months old, his legs were amputated halfway between his knees and ankles.Today, known as the “Blade Runner”, he runs with the aid of carbon fibre transtibial artificial limbs. He has run in competition with able-bodied athletes and fights to run in the Olympics.“What did it take for Oscar to reach the levels he is at today?” asked Jordaan. “Over the years, from when he was young, what did he have to do to get himself up and to do what he has done?”The football chief said Pistorius had to imagine himself out of his disability and believe that he could not only run, but that he would win. It is this imaginative journey that has drawn him up and above the average man.“Imagination is a powerful thing. What kept Nelson Mandela and the rest of the people on Robben Island going? What were they thinking as year 20 of their incarceration came and went?“It was their imagination that kept them going, that made them achieve what they achieved. They imagined the impossible, and they achieved it,” said Jordaan.And so I wonder, what made Roger Milla, at the ripe old age 42 years and 39 days, dominate the 1994 World Cup and score against Russia? What made him become the anchor for his team and the darling of the world?Some analysts have said that South Africa won the 1995 Rugby World Cup because they believed, after a pep talk from Mandela, that indeed they could do it. It is generally acknowledged that they were on a hiding to nothing, yet many say that imagination and self-belief pulled them through.Nelson Mandela himself once said: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”Until 1994, when South Africans queued from the crack of dawn to cast a democratic vote for the first time in their lives, it seemed impossible that such a thing could happen. People like Jordaan say it seemed impossible that an African country would host the world’s greatest football showpiece. And now it will happen in 2010.I have to say that thesis of Phelps, Jordan and Mandela is persuasive. Can it work for our national team, though? We have just under two years to go to the 2010 finals.At the moment our team is a shambles, struggling to stand up to some of the weakest sides on the continent. But no one says a word about imagination, about what is in the heads of the team and what is in the heads of the nation. Perhaps if we believed that we can win, perhaps if our players started imagining themselves as winners rather than losers, perhaps we have a chance.Had I thought about that question at the panel discussion properly, this is what I would have said: For us and Bafana Bafana, it is time to be children again, to dream and imagine ourselves as winners.Justice Malala is an award-winning former newspaper editor, and is now general manager of Avusa’s stable of 56 magazines. He writes weekly columns for The Times newspaper and Financial Mail magazine, as well as a monthly media and politics column for Empire magazine. He is the resident political analyst for independent television channel e.tv and has consulted extensively for financial institutions on South African political risk. Malala was also an executive producer on Hard Copy I and II, a ground-breaking television series on SABC 3. Hard Copy I won the Golden Horn Award for best television series. Malala’s work has been published internationally in the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Financial Times, The Independent, Forbes, Institutional Investor, The Age and The Observer.last_img read more

Goel assures good turnout for Indias matches in U-17 WC

first_imgNew Delhi, Jul 5 (PTI) Amid growing concerns over low turnout for Indias FIFA U-17 World Cup games in the capital, Sports Minister Vijay Goel today assured that they are doing all they can to ensure a more-than-fair attendance at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. The minister said he has convened a meeting of schools, in which they will be told to encourage students to fill in the stands during the mega event. Ticket sales for matches in Delhi has been far from encouraging but Goel said they are not leaving any stone unturned to ensure decent turnout for Indias three round robin matches at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Goel spoke to the reporters during an inspection of the 60,000-capacity stadium. He said 90 percent of the work is complete and has asked for further timelines for 100 percent completion. He was assured that the stadium would be handed over to the FIFA by the September 26 deadline. “90 percent of work is complete but still I have asked for timelines, that when they will hand over the stadium so that we are ready to host the tournament even tomorrow. I have inspected the entire stadium and given my views,” Goel said. “As far as ticket sales in Delhi is concerned, I will encourage all school students to come and watch live all the matches. In that regard, I am calling a meeting of all schools and with this agenda,” he added. Initially scheduled in Mumbai, the FIFA agreed on shifting Indias round robin matches to the national capital following a request from the government. He said the opening ceremony will be held at the National Stadium in Delhi, with the closing happening in Kolkata, the venue for the final. Goel added they will request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come for the inauguration. The tournament will be held across six centres from October 6 to 28. Overwhelmed by the huge interest in three cities of Kolkata, Kochi and Guwahati, FIFA today reopened the phase I sales of Under-17 World Cup tickets that start at Rs 48 per match when bought in a package of the entire matches at a venue. The much-awaited draw for the tournament will be held in Mumbai on July 7, and the same day the phase II ticket sale will begin with higher prices. PTI AH KHS KHSadvertisementlast_img read more

Finance Minister Says Government Will Continue to Protect the Poor

first_img Opening the 2018/19 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on March 8, the Minister said social programmes for protected groups will continue to receive priority with respect to the allocation of resources, to ensure that overall spending in these areas is not eroded by inflation. Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, says the Government remains committed to protecting the poor and vulnerable in the society. “We will continue, in fiscal year 2018/19, to strengthen the social safety net to ensure that these vulnerable persons are not left behind,” Mr. Shaw said. Story Highlights Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, says the Government remains committed to protecting the poor and vulnerable in the society.Opening the 2018/19 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on March 8, the Minister said social programmes for protected groups will continue to receive priority with respect to the allocation of resources, to ensure that overall spending in these areas is not eroded by inflation.Included are programmes for youth employment, poor relief, children’s homes and places of safety, school feeding, the elderly, and pregnant and lactating women.“We will continue, in fiscal year 2018/19, to strengthen the social safety net to ensure that these vulnerable persons are not left behind,” Mr. Shaw said.He noted that special attention is being placed on the Programme of Advancment Through Health and Education (PATH), which targets some of the most vulnerable segments of the population – children and students aged zero to 19 years; the adult poor, including the disabled, elderly, pregnant and lactating mothers and the destitute – and the Steps-to-Work Initiative, which targets working-age members of PATH for referral to relevant support services to enable them to seek and retain employment.Mr. Shaw said the programmes have the goal of breaking the chain of inter-generational poverty, adding that this is being achieved by ensuring that the next generation has better tools and better health prospects than their parents.“It also provides for support for those parents who need targeted social interventions to improve their living standards,” the Minister said.Mr. Shaw’s presentation was made under the theme ‘Stability, Growth and Prosperity – Our Goal, Our Responsibility’.last_img read more