South Africa Youth Day 2021

15/06/21

Today marks the 25th Anniversary of the launch of the Youth Charter's South Africa Office on 16th June 1996, South Africa's Youth Day, which commemorates the Soweto Youth uprising of 1976, when school children took on the Apartheid regime.

The Youth Charter's Sport for Development and Peace work in Post-Apartheid South Africa started in 1993 at the Vision for Sport for Conference. The Youth Charter Games Legacy work in South Africa has included supporting the Cape Town 2004 Olympic bid and the South Africa 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cup bids and hosting. As part of our Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games Legacy work the Youth Charter took a group of young people on a Spirit of the Streets tour of South Africa.

The Youth Charter was born in 1993 in response to the tragic loss of 14 year old school boy Benji Stanley, who was shot dead on the streets of Moss Side, Manchester and has since attempted to provide alternative social and cultural activity benefits through sport, arts and lifestyle choices. What is not known is how closely the respective fortunes of young people in two separate continents, in two cities as remote in distance as Moss Side and Soweto would, through their similar social and cultural barriers be “provided with an opportunity through tragedy to develop in life through sport”.

As cities of sporting and musical power, their respective love of Soccer is also evident with both cities the home of leading Premiership Clubs in Manchester City and United and The Orlando Pirates and Keiser Chiefs in Johannesburg. Both Manchester and Johannesburg aimed to regenerate their respective cities through the Olympic and Commonwealth Bidding and hosting of Major Games.

The Youth Charter’s birth seemed almost inevitable, as the issue of youth exclusion and social and cultural deprivation provided as many challenges as they did opportunities. With social unrest and riots also identified within ‘the tale of two cities’, the cultural divides have always explored the role of sports recreational and leisure potential to foster greater social and cultural cohesion between people of different race, culture, religion or gender.

As Manchester’s failed 2000 Olympic Bid became Manchester’s successful Commonwealth 2002 Games, the Youth Charter began a unique and ongoing journey with a number of visits to the new South Africa. This saw many of the inspirational examples of social development through Sport translated to the Moss Side experience.

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