On the opening day of the Sithengi, Chief Executive of Videovision Entertainment, Anant Singh announced the production of the feature length docu-drama, More Than Just A Game, which tells the dramatic and little-known story of organised soccer played among prisoners on Robben Island. Singh also announced that award-winning filmmaker, Junaid Ahmed will direct, with the script co-written by Ahmed and Mail & Guardian columnist, Tom Eaton. Videovision Entertainment’s Helena Spring and Hannelie Bekker will produce with Anant Singh while Chuck Korr, Ted Rowland and Dave Crowe will co-produce.
More Than Just A Game began with the chance discovery of a long-forgotten archive at the Mayibuye Centre at the University of the Western Cape. On a dusty collection of old cardboard boxes containing thousands of handwritten documents someone had scribbled the intriguing words, ‘Robben Island Sports’. American sports historian, Professor Chuck Korr, began to read through the papers – annual reports of inexplicably named football clubs, adjudications of disciplinary panels and committee meeting minutes. He immediately realised that he’d stumbled upon one of the most remarkable stories in the history of modern sport: that for nearly 30 years, the political prisoners on Robben Island organised and ran a three division football league, complete with fixtures, trophies, managers and trainers.
Commenting on More Than Just A Game, FIFA President, Joseph S. Blatter said, “What happened on Robben Island was a revealing example showing that football is much more than just a game. For the “Freedom fighters”, it was about dignity, respect, fun and hope in a space where humanity was surviving in the middle of oppression and infamy. In the world of today so divided and so unfair, football can teach us a lot on the universality and the solidarity embodied in the values and principles of our sport. The docu-drama More Than Just A Game is a beautiful project that FIFA is proud to support.”
“We are delighted to bring More Than Just A Game to the big screen. This is the first feature documentary to be produced by Videovision Entertainment and given the global interest in the document genre we expect the film to be embraced by audiences in South Africa and around the world world-wide,” said Anant Singh. “We are honoured that the film has the full support and endorsement of FIFA. We will begin pre-production early next year and will completed by the end of 2007. We are also having discussions at Sithengi with strategic partners who will be involved in the film. More Than Just A Game is the perfect scene-setter for our country as we prepare to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup,” added Singh.
More Than Just A Game is a Videovision Entertainment production with script development supported by the National Film and Video Foundation of South Africa (NFVF). It is executive produced by Sudhir Pragjee and Sanjeev Singh and produced by Anant Singh, Helena Spring and Hannelie Bekker with Chuck Korr, Ted Rowland and Dave Crowe co-producing. It is written by Tom Eaton and Junaid Ahmed and directed by Junaid Ahmed.