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Soweto To Rio With A Spy On Your Tail

They were quick, young and talented; they all went to poor Soweto schools with little money and less hope.
Yet here they were boarding a plane and risking arrest to play football 8,000 kilometers away with Zico and the boys of Brazil.




This was the bizarre tour of a lifetime, arranged by world football legend Sir Stanley Matthews for youngsters he had trained in Soweto in defiance of apartheid laws.

“At the airport I was riddled with nerves but tried to overcome them by busying myself shepherding my young charges and allaying their obvious fears. Large, forbidding men in light blue suits and dark glasses with inscrutable looks on their faces watched our every move but, uncomfortable as it was, they never approached us. At any given second I expected us to be rounded up, hustled into vans and taken away to one of South Africa’s infamous police stations but it never happened,” wrote Stanley in his autobiography.

“I couldn’t believe it and neither could Stan’s Men. We were on our way out of the country bound for Brazil, the first ever black football team to tour outside of South Africa.”


Yet, apartheid followed the youngsters to Rio de Janeiro, in the shape of an intelligence man who sat at the back of the plane.

This strange journey was the work of one of the greatest English players ever. Matthews was the first European Footballer of the Year in 1956, who played top flight football until he was 50. They called him the ‘Wizard of the Dribble’ and he was loved the world over.

For the love of the game Matthews came to South Africa and defied the country’s segregation law to turn township talent into stars. This story is to be told this year in a United States documentary, called Matthews.

In the summer of 1975, Matthews spent months scouting talent from schools in Soweto, Johannesburg’s biggest township, and formed a team called Stan’s Men which he took on tour to Brazil. It was born of a question from a youngster on whether Matthews had ever played against Pelé. This led to an unheard of trip from South Africa. Matthews used his influence to get sponsors in the shape of Coca Cola and the Sunday Times, as well as passports for the boys, against the norms of the time.

“Sir Stan was a brave man, it was unlawful for white people to be in townships at that time but he was in Orlando every week to train us. He would come to our home to meet with our parents. Initially the parents thought we were crazy when we told them about going to Brazil but because Sir Stan was known to them they soon believed we were telling the truth,” says Hamilton Majola, then aged 17.

“During those days, Orlando Stadium was our mecca of football. For the Brazil tour, it was not easy, we trained hard. There were hundreds of talented footballers from all over Soweto but only 15 could be selected. Dedication and discipline were key to Sir Stan,” says Isaac Masigo, another youngster who boarded the plane for Brazil.

March 21, 1975, was the first day of the month-long tour to Brazil. It had taken weeks of hard training that created a good deal of excitement.

“On that Friday, learning in Soweto schools was disrupted… learners were running mad, so many children were bussed to Jan Smuts (OR Tambo International Airport) for our send-off… I will never forget that day, it was surreal,” says Masigo.

On the Boeing 707, destined for Brazil, the lads were anxious and smart. They dressed neatly in tailored navy suits with a gold badge, with Stan’s Men printed on it, blue shirts, navy ties, with red and white dots, and shiny black shoes. Upon arrival in Brazil, they were treated like stars and journalists flocked around them. They felt like stars staying at the Hotel Regina, in Rio, on the famous Copacabana Beach. Most had never seen the sea.

They went to practise with Flamengo Football Club and met Arthur Antunes Coimbra, better known as Zico, who was to star in the World Cup for Brazil. This was one of the players they had only seen on the bioscope, a makeshift cinema back home; televisions didn’t come to South Africa until a year later.

“Carlos Alberto Pereira, who coached Bafana Bafana in the 2010 World Cup, I met him in 1975. We played and took pictures with Brazilian stars. We trained with big teams like Flamengo, Fluminense, Vasco da Gama and Americana. The culture there was different from what we know in South Africa. The clubs there had coaches for different departments, kit manager, physiotherapist and that was not the case in Johannesburg. We trained from 6AM to noon. There they start training you from childhood, in South Africa we are playing games,” says Masigo.

The first game in Rio was a huge disappointment. The youngsters played alongside their coach Matthews, then aged 60, the first game against Gama Filho University and were drubbed 8-0.

“That was embarrassing; their ball was different from ours. Our dribbling skills couldn’t get us anywhere. They man marked so tight that we couldn’t manage a single goal. Brazilians meant business; our goalkeeper left the field with swollen hands. He cried. If it was not for Sir Stan things could have been worse,” says Majola.

One of the spectators was the white South African intelligence officer who tracked their every move.

“We were followed but we couldn’t see. The security police followed us from the airport to Brazil, they couldn’t trust black boys… One day, on our way to the hotel, a white Afrikaner man shocked us: ‘Ja (yes), you blacks of South Africa, you stay nice here’,” says Masigo.

Although the boys didn’t do anything to warrant jail back home; they broke the rules of Matthews when he wasn’t looking.

“After the training, when Sir Stan was resting, we were free to go the clubs and beach. There was this Copacabana Beach, the best beach in the world. It was women galore, I sweated as if I was running under the sun,” says Masigo.

The Brazilian women in swimwear mistook the African boys, kitted out in red-and-white tracksuits, for Americans, laughs Masigo.

Majola knows Matthews, a teetotaller and vegetarian, did not approve of these outings.

“Sir Stan taught us life values; from the beginning he said we mustn’t go for girls because they would destroy our football future. He warned us against alcohol,” says Majola.

Soon after Brazil, Matthews returned to England but he left a foundation in Soweto. The team continued playing friendly games, outside the country, in Swaziland and Botswana.

“When we returned from Brazil, the Sunday Times, which was one of our sponsors, reported on our tour and one of the headlines read ‘They are now internationals’. There was so much jealousy from other local teams as a result we were not allowed to affiliate to the local leagues. We played friendlies. Things started to get unfriendly. We can’t be pointing fingers now, maybe it was God’s will. The fact Sir Stan left his country and family to share his football skills with us, we had nothing to offer him in return,” says Majola.

“I had seen and experienced what football could do for an individual and I wanted others to realize not only the possibilities that football can bring, but to get in touch with the possibilities that lay within themselves, irrespective of how hard and demeaning their lives were. If I could enjoy such benefit from football, I was determined to show others such benefits existed for them as well,” wrote Matthews.

“It would have been easy for Sir Stan to start a commanding club with us but he was threatened against doing that. Every big company wanted to sponsor our team. We were treated well, we had sponsored transport to all our matches,” says Masigo.

The team dissolved and many went to other clubs. One, Vincent Tsie, Masigo’s only schoolmate on the Brazil trip, found the country’s laws unbearable after the Brazil trip and took off.

“After he saw the life in Brazil he refused to stay in the racist South Africa anymore. In 1976, he went to exile in Canada where he died,” says Masigo.

“I was also tempted to leave but I couldn’t do it because I was the eldest of my siblings and couldn’t leave them. I knew what happened to Kalamazoo (Steve Mokone, the first black South African in the European league who died in exile).” Masigo, now a pensioner, still lives in Orlando.

At 50, Matthews played his last professional game for Stoke City, the town of his birth. He died on February 23, 2002, aged 85. In February, Matthews would have been 101 years old.

His contribution to African football is timeless and will never be forgotten in Soweto.

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World’s Highest-Paid Athletes 2019: What Messi, LeBron And Tiger Make





Major League Baseball had a staggering run this year when, over a four-week period, a quartet of its biggest stars—Nolan Arenado, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Mike Trout—signed blockbuster, long-term deals worth a combined $1.3 billion. They ranked as four of the biggest playing contracts in the history of sports.

The deals will create generational wealth for their families, but only Trout, ranked 17th with $50.6 million, cracks the top 20 of the world’s highest-paid athletes.

The difference: Those four baseball stars generate barely $10 million in combined endorsement income while the top earners in basketball, soccer, tennis and golf all individually bank at least $30 million from sponsors annually; eight of the 11 best-paid athletes come from those four sports.

READ MORE | Lionel Messi Claims Top Spot on Forbes’ 2019 List Of The World’s 100 Highest-Paid Athletes

Most of the athletes ranked above Trout follow a similar path: Reach the highest levels of a global sport, and marketers swarm with endorsement deals to pitch their wares around the world.

Barcelona soccer legend Lionel Messi leads the way on this year’s list with $127 million, including $35 million off the pitch from partners Adidas, MasterCard, PepsiCo and more. Messi translates into every language.

Messi is only the fourth athlete to land in the No. 1 spot over the past 19 years, joining Tiger Woods (12 times), Floyd Mayweather (4) and Cristiano Ronaldo (2).

Messi succeeds Mayweather, who failed to get in the ring for a pro bout over the past 12 months but is likely still counting last year’s $285 million haul, which he earned largely from his 2017 bout against UFC star Conor McGregor.

READ MORE | The World’s Highest-Paid Athletes

Messi is joined by fellow global soccer icons Cristiano Ronaldo ($109 million) and Neymar ($105 million) at the top this year. It is the first time that soccer players have ranked as the top three earners in sports since Forbes began tracking athlete earnings in 1990.

Elite stars in other global sports are also extremely marketable on any continent. Roger Federer ranks fifth with $93.4 million, including $86 million off the court.

Federer will turn 38 in August and is a dinosaur in tennis years. Yet Japanese apparel brand Uniqlo signed the 20-time Grand Slam winner in 2018 to a 10-year contract worth $300 million. Federer has a dozen sponsors looking to tap the cash-rich tennis fan demographic.

Basketball’s leading trio of LeBron James ($89 million), Stephen Curry ($79.8 million) and Kevin Durant ($65.4 million) rank seventh through ninth, having earned a combined $130 million beyond their respective playing salaries.

READ MORE | The NBA’s Highest-Paid Players 2019: LeBron James Leads With $89 Million

Their shoe deals, with Nike (James, Durant) and Under Armour (Curry), are by far the biggest endorsement for each player and dwarf what an MLB player can earn pitching baseball cleats and gear.

Sportswear brands, including Adidas, have used NBA stars in China for more than a decade to help establish a foothold in the world’s biggest market, sending big names like James and Durant there every summer on promotional tours. The NBA estimates 640 million people in China watched some kind of NBA programming during the 2017-18 season—that’s nearly twice the population of the U.S.

Golf is another sport that reaches almost every corner of the globe, and no golfer has benefited more than Tiger Woods: He has made $1.4 billion during his career from endorsements and appearance fees, more than 10 times his prize money, and his net worth is a staggering $800 million. Woods ranks 11th on this year’s athletes list with earnings of $63.9 million, including $54 million off the course.

Tiger roared back over the past 12 months with his first win in five years (Tour Championship) and his first major title in 11 years (The Masters). Last year, he signed an exclusive multi-year global content partnership with Discovery’s GolfTV. Head-to-head matches are part of the deal, and most will take place outside the U.S.

The 100 highest-paid athletes earned a combined $4 billion over the past 12 months, up 5% over the previous year. The increase jumps to 16% if you strip out the one-time stimulus of the 2017 Mayweather-McGregor fight. Endorsements fueled much of the gains, with sponsor-driven income at $987 million, up 12% from the previous year.

Overall, athletes from 10 sports and 25 countries made the top 100. Basketball (35 athletes) is the most dominant sport, and Americans (62) are the most dominant nationality.

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Tennis ace Serena Williams ranked 63rd with $29.2 million, including $25 million off the court. She is the only woman to crack the top 100 for the second time in three years. 

No female athletes qualified last year, when Williams was just returning to tennis after a 12-month layoff for her pregnancy and the birth of her daughter, Olympia. Williams is lining up her next act with a new clothing line and a venture capital fundfocused on investing in female and minority founders.

Our earnings include prize money, salaries and bonuses earned between June 1, 2018, and June 1, 2019. Endorsement incomes are an estimate of sponsorships, appearance fees and licensing incomes for the same 12-month period (click here for a more detailed methodology and the numbers behind the top 100).

-Kurt Badenhausen; Forbes Staff

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Lionel Messi Claims Top Spot on Forbes’ 2019 List Of The World’s 100 Highest-Paid Athletes





Forbes today released its annual ranking of the World’s 100 Highest-Paid athletes, who collectively earned $4 billion over the last 12 months, up 5% from last year’s earnings of $3.8 billion. 

Lionel Messi was named the world’s highest-paid athlete for the first time, up from second place last year, with $127 million in total earnings.

Messi unseats Floyd Mayweather, who held the crown last year, and was the leader four times in seven years. Behind Messi is longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo (No. 2), who earned $109 million between his salary and endorsements. 

READ MORE | How Rihanna Created A $600 Million Fortune—And Became The World’s Richest Female Musician

Serena Williams (No. 63) returned to the ranking, after no women appeared in 2018. Cost of admission to the 2019 list is the highest ever at $25 million, up $2.1 million from the previous year. Endorsement income experienced an increase of 12.5% to $987 million this year.

“The global impact of soccer is clearly reflected in earnings in 2019, with the top three athletes on the list being Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar,” said Kurt Badenhausen, senior editor, Forbes Media.

“But basketball players continue to dominate the top 100 overall with 35 athletes on the list earning a total of $1.29 billion, with 72% of that income coming from salaries rather than endorsement deals.”

READ MORE | Artist, Icon, Billionaire: How Jay-Z Created His $1 Billion Fortune

The list of elite athletes consists of players from ten different sports. NBA stars lead with 35 basketball players among the top 100, down from 40 in 2018, headed by LeBron James (No. 8 with $89 million).

Football was the next most-represented sport with 19 players, followed by baseball with 15, and soccer with 12.

There are 25 different countries represented on this year’s World’s Highest-Paid Athletes list, up from 22 in 2018. Americans dominate the action with 62 athletes thanks to the sky-high salaries in the major sports leagues.

The U.K. has five athletes, France and Spain have three, while Brazil, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Serbia and Venezuela all have two.


Our earnings include prize money, salaries and bonuses earned between June 1, 2018 and June 1, 2019. Endorsement incomes are an estimate of sponsorships, appearance fees and licensing incomes for the same 12-month period based on conversations with dozens of industry insiders. We do not deduct for taxes or agents’ fees, and we don’t include investment income.

The World’s Top 10 Highest-Paid Athletes in 2019:

RankAthleteSportSalary/Winnings ($mil)Endorsements ($mil)Total Earnings ($mil)
1Lionel MessiSoccer9235127
2Cristiano RonaldoSoccer6544109
4Canelo AlvarezBoxing92294
5Roger FedererTennis7.48693.4
6Russell WilsonFootball80.5989.5
7Aaron RodgersFootball80.3989.3
8LeBron JamesBasketball365389
9Stephen CurryBasketball37.84279.8
10Kevin DurantBasketball30.43565.4

-Forbes Corporate Communications; Forbes Staff

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Young women in Soweto, South Africa, say healthy living is hard. Here’s why




Data from South Africa has shown that over two thirds of young women are overweight and obese. This predisposes them to non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Most women are not exercising enough, and consumption of processed and calorie-dense foods and high amounts of sugar is common.

It was this knowledge that sparked the establishment of the Health Life Trajectories Initiative. It’s being run in South Africa, India, China and Canada and aims to provide interventions that can help young women stay healthy before, during and after pregnancy.

In South Africa, this randomised controlled trial will provide one-on-one support as well as peer group sessions to over 6000 young women. The idea is provide them with information, and to help them set and maintain goals for healthier lifestyles.

Researchers from the Medical Research Council and Wits University’s Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit are running the South African arm of the study. We wanted to start by better understanding our target population – that is, young women aged between 18 and 24 living in Soweto.

READ MORE | Local Solutions Can Boost Healthier Food Choices In South Africa

Soweto is a large, densely populated urban township which comprises one third of Johannesburg’s population. Soweto is becoming rapidly urbanised, but the majority of people are still very poor and struggle to provide food for their families.

We conducted a series of focus group discussions and in depth interviews to unravel health behaviours, barriers and facilitators to wellbeing and health with young women from Soweto who had not yet had a child. We also asked them about what sorts of interventions they’d prefer to support and guide them.

The women offered important insights that showed it’s not enough to simply promote healthy eating and exercise without considering the very real environmental and structural constraints present in South Africa.

Barriers to healthy choices

The 29 participants spoke about many different facets of health. These included happiness and mental wellbeing, faith, social support, body image, and lifestyle behaviours.

They identified many barriers to healthy eating, among them the cost of and access to healthy food options. Some women also said they had little access to exercise facilities such as gyms and were afraid to exercise on the streets because they feared being assaulted or harassed. One woman said:

No, I don’t feel safe because we have drug addicts, traffic, women trafficking: it’s not safe for us to walk in the streets.

The women we interviewed painted a picture of an environment in which healthy behaviours are difficult to implement or sustain. One said:

Small businesses that are opening up in my community and they all sell fries, literally they just all sell fries…

Women told us that cheap and unhealthy fast foods are on every street corner: “bunny chow” – hollowed out bread stuffed with curry – vetkoek (a fried dough bread stuffed with different fillings) and fried chips are affordable and available within a few steps of most houses. As a result, women did not want to go out of their way to purchase healthier, more expensive foods.

Our interviewees also didn’t feel able to demand that healthier food be bought for their homes, because many were not contributing financially and were therefore not in a position to control food purchases. Women reported being financially dependant on relatives and male partners.

READ MORE | New Ways Of Thinking On Health, Arts And Humanities Are Emerging In Africa


They also said that opportunities for physical activity were neither provided nor prioritised for women in Soweto. Some women said that a lack of facilities made it difficult for them to participate in any exercise, as they did not have access to gyms or fields to exercise.

Other women told us that there were gyms, sports grounds, parks, and even free aerobics classes at community halls in their area. However these facilities often get vandalised quickly, and can no longer be used. More importantly, they didn’t feel safe enough to exercise on the streets, perhaps by jogging or running. They also felt unsafe walking around in leggings or tights. Women were fearful of human trafficking, sexual assault, and violence – very real issues in this community.

Crucially, our research found that young women did not see obesity as a sufficient reason to change their behaviour. But they said they would be motivated to exercise and eat better if they were diagnosed with a non-communicable disease like diabetes.

This suggests that obesity has become normalised in South Africa – and this needs to be addressed.

Policy interventions

These findings are now being worked into our interventions, and we are cognisant of the contextual realities that may affect young women’s ability to change their lifestyles. We hope that this research, along with whatever findings emerge from our interventions, will inform policy makers and motivate them to implement necessary changes in this community.

Women in Soweto and in South Africa in general need support to live healthier lifestyles. This support needs to come from policy makers. If South Africa does not step up and support young women by providing them with access to safe spaces and affordable healthier foods, and by controlling the oversupply of unhealthy options, the country may not be able to curb its ever increasing rise in obesity and related non-communicable diseases.

-Alessandra Prioreschi: Associate Director and Researcher at the Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit (DPHRU), University of the Witwatersrand

The Conversation

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