The staging of the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa provided the Luthuli Museum with an opportunity to draw attention to the role played by Chief Luthuli in the administration of the game and his enthusiasm for the sport.

(2010: Luthuli Museum)
(Current travelling exhibition)

The staging of the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa provided an opportunity to showcase our country’s historical and cultural heritage. The Luthuli Museum was enthusiastic to use the occasion to promote the legacy of Chief Albert John Luthuli. Chief Luthuli was the first secretary of the South African Football Association. He confesses in his autobiography that he became “a compulsive football fan” and mentions that he was “carried away helplessly by the excitement of a soccer match”. This love for soccer led to his becoming supervisor and secretary of the Adams College Shooting Stars Football Club in the 1920s.

In 1929 he was elected vice-president of the Durban and District African Football Association (DDAFA). He withdrew from soccer administration after he was elected as Chief of Groutville in 1936. However, in 1946 he participated with Rev. Bernard Sigamoney (an Anglican pastor from Johannesburg) in establishing the Natal Inter-Race Soccer Board, which organised competitions between African, Indian and Coloured teams in Natal.

Historically, the game of soccer has an interesting and socially recognisable background, with the documentation from a mission-school pastime for the amakholwa to a popular form of urban African ‘free time’ within a racially segregationist environment. The game provided an opportunity to escape from the negativities of the environment and to build camaraderie. More than this, however, it provided opportunities to challenge the racist environment and served as a symbol of resistance, particularly in situation such as prevailed on Robben Island. It has been commented that soccer provided a “remarkable ability to penetrate among the poorest, most exploited group in the society” (Archer & Bouillon, 1982, quoted in Alegi, Playing to the Gallery? Sport, Cultural Performance and Social Identity in South Africa, 1920s – 1945, 2002) Soccer provided and gave meaning to people’s lives and gave a sense of achievement and social upliftment.

The staging of the Soccer World Cup in South Africa in 2010 was a realisation of the vision and struggles in sport of people like Chief Luthuli. “Soccer humanised us – Chief Albert Luthuli and the beautiful game” aims at drawing an awareness to the multi-layered game that soccer is and furthermore provides a platform to acknowledge women is soccer, as with many arenas in society women have been left marginalised and left out of the main societal structures, this exhibition plays homage to important women who have contributed to and played in South Africa’s woman’s teams.