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The Youth Charter ‘30’ South Africa report marks an incredible journey from the Streets of Moss Side, Manchester to the townships of South Africa and the resulting social, cultural, economic and political changes that now see the Sport for Development and Peace movement part of the sporting and global communities.


Within months of the Youth Charter’s launch at Wembley in 1993, the then Sports Council’s Recreation Management conference coincided with the Soweto 13’s visit, which saw me invited to head the GB delegation that would contribute to the historic Vision for Sport conference in Johannesburg.


The preceding years saw the Youth Charter broker, facilitate, innovate and contribute to the sporting, recreation and overall strategic development of sport in South Africa from a social, grassroot, development, performance and excellence pathway and whole sport plan. This was reflected in the 1996 Implementing the Vision Conference in Johannesburg.


Some of the highlights of that journey were:


  1. The SASOL U23 Olympic Squad playing an historic football match against the Moss Side Amateur Reserves, drawn from two rival gangs.
  2. The launch of the Youth Charter on the historic 16th June 1996 Youth Day with the late Winnie Mandela.
  3. Meeting the late President Nelson Mandela during his South Africa State Visit to the UK, where he held my hand and provided much confidence in my efforts of contributing to his political genius of using sport and the arts to not only help heal the wounds of apartheid but to unite the nation and give hope and opportunity for all.
  4. The Building a Nation through Sport Conference as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland saw the South African delegation join me in presenting what we now recognise as sport for development and peace.
  5. The England v South Africa soccer international at Old Trafford and the Bafana Bafana visit to the streets of Moss Side with the ‘Spirit of the Streets Tour of South Africa’ as a legacy of the 2002 Commonwealth Games are just a number of so many moments in time that are reflected in this landmark report.


As we face global challenges across all five continents, with the world health organisation’s efforts to see a more mentally, physically, emotionally improved life chance for the youth globally, there is much that can be contributed by taking the past into the present to make the future.


I commend this report to all of those who have reflected this incredible journey. Mandela had a long walk to freedom; this is a long walk to hope and opportunity.


Prof. Geoff Thomspon MBE FRSA DL QP JM

Full Report - YC '30' South Africa Report (2023)

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