Iceland United is a soccer team that practices on the side of the N2 National Highway on the outskirts of Cape Town. They chose their name because they say that practicing there in winter is like playing soccer in Iceland. At a glance through a car window these sportsman are assumed to be low-income earners who have gathered on the only patch of open land in the area enjoy themselves for an afternoon. This is true, but not a full story.
Iceland United is a dedicated soccer team which practices four times a week and participates in tournaments every weekend. After four years of training they are extremely dedicated and surprisingly professional considering the facilities they have at hand. The management of this team includes a CEO, manager, coach, and an assistant coach. They also have a selection of youths that they are busy training to enter the ranks of the starting eleven in the years to come.
The time and effort that this team puts in mirrors that of higher profile teams that earn a living from their sport. With the FIFA World Cup Soccer Tournament coming to Africa for the first time much hype has been created around both soccer and South Africa. The hype is so great that many have overlooked the foundations of the country. Much business has been sourced from China and not locally, the opening ceremony is predominantly going to include international music acts and not the sounds of South Africa, and on a sports level everyone is so excited to watch the top teams play that they have ignored the quality of the local leagues. This essay aims at drawing attention to the essence of South Africa and where most of the players from the better-known Bafana Bafana once started.
Like how people stop and enjoy a soccer match from a grandstand or in front of a television, I want these pictures to stop its viewers and evoke the same emotions from the soccer matches that so many drive past everyday without thinking twice about.
There are two layers to this exhibition. The first is derived from an old fascination of mine: how so many fans of sport can get so emotional and critical over a sport they have never played themselves. My response to this was to get as close to the game as possible so that the viewer can experience the tension, aggression, suspense, euphoria and defeat that makes a match. The second layer is designed to pay attention and learn about a part of South Africa that is often ignored. Most tourists who visit Cape Town for the World Cup will leave the airport and drive right past Iceland United and their competitors en route to a luxury hotel and an international soccer match. They will probably learn many things about South Africa over this time but will never know the story of life in the townships and how most urban South Africans live. This body of work is the lesser told tale of soccer and South Africa.