`It is amazing to think that a game that people take for granted all around the world, was the very same game that gave a group of prisoners sanity – and in a way, gave us the resolve to carry on the struggle’. Anthony Suze, Robben Island Prisoner.
This is the astonishing story of how a unique group of political prisoners and freedom fighters found a sense of dignity in one of the ugliest hellholes on Earth: Robben Island. Despite all odds and regular torture, beatings and daily backbreaking hard labour, these extraordinary men turned soccer into an active force in the struggle for freedom.
For nearly 20 years, the political prisoners on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was infamously incarcerated, somehow found the energy, spirit and resolve to organise a 1400 prisoner-strong, eight club football league which was played with strict adherence to FIFA rules.
The prisoners themselves represented a broad array of political beliefs and backgrounds, yet football became an impassioned and unified symbol of resistance against apartheid. They refused to let their own political differences sway their devotion to the sport, which allowed them to organise and maintain leadership right under the noses of their captors.
This league not only provided sanctuary and respite from the prisoners’ cruel surroundings, it kept their minds active and many credit it with keeping them alive. More Than Just a Game chronicles their story, the politics of the time, the extraordinary characters, their heroism and the thrilling matches themselves.