2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™

2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™

11 June - 11 July

2010 FIFA World Cup™

From Cape to Congo

Dr Danny Jordaan meets former DRC player and refugee Ndaye Mulamba at the Greenpoint Stadium in Cape Town

At the height of his career Ndaye Mulamba led his national team, the Leopards, with speed and accuracy.

He captained them in the Democratic Republic of Congo's first foray into the FIFA World Cup in 1974 and he today still holds the record of the most goals scored in an African Cup of Nations tournament.

But those achievements hold little consolation for a man that was forced to flee his country because of political violence.

As a refugee in Cape Town, Mulamba has all but faded into obscurity - a forgotten hero of African football. But thanks to an upcoming documentary, the plight of Mulamba and other forgotten African footballers, looks set to be highlighted.

Upon discovering that Mulamba was living in Cape Town, CEO of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa Dr Danny Jordaan, took time to meet up with the African football legend on a recent visit to the Mother City.

The two soccer veterans reminisced about the heady days of African football across the continent and also spoke about the contribution African football legends can make to the development of the game in Africa.

For Mulamba, this was welcome relief from years of isolation and little recognition for the role he has played in putting African football on the world stage.

"African soccer veterans in exile are suffering with not enough visibility and recognition as South Africa plans to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup," he told Dr Jordaan.

The Organising Committee CEO agreed that not enough is done to support the older generation and involve them in the development of African football.

"It is a challenge, and we are looking at ways of encouraging African nations to include veterans in soccer development initiatives because the continent has a significant shortage of qualified and trained officials in the management of the game."

Mulamba captained his country's team (then known as Zaire) when it became the first-ever black African team in the 1974 World Cup in Germany. That same year at the African Cup of Nations Mulambo scored nine times.

He was feted as a hero in the Democratic Republic of Congo until being forced into a 13-year exile by political conflict.

A victim of political violence Mulamba has lost his first born son and survived being shot in the leg in a brutal attack by soldiers during the war in the DRC. He escaped and became a refugee in South Africa in 1996.

War, conflict and lack of resources, said Dr Jordaan, had a severe impact on the organisational and logistical infrastructure of African football, and in some cases had a direct impact on the footballers themselves.

"Until countries in the Great Lakes region of Africa have more developed democracies, and a culture of human rights and dignity, this will remain a challenge." he said.

Jordaan assured Mulamba that the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, the first World Cup on African soil, could not have been possible without the hard work of the pioneer African footballers such as himself, and that their achievements will be honoured on the continent.

Mulamba is the subject of a documentary being directed by Makela Pululu. In the film, Forgotten Gold, Pululu follows Ndaye's journey back to the DRC to confront his past, and reclaim his legacy.

Pululu is also a refugee from the DRC. For him, the film about his childhood hero is an honour and a duty.

"At the heart of this film is Ndaye's emotional return to his country to reunite with his family and his teammates - and to find the perpetrators of violence against him and his family - after more than a decade in difficult exile. This is a rare inside look into the politics of sports and the life, times and tragedy of one of the world's greatest, and most forgotten, athletes," said Pululu.

South African documentary production company, Rainbow Circle Films, is currently in production on the documentary film, with a planned release in April 2010 as the world focuses its attention on the World Cup.

The film will include interviews with international soccer stars who will reflect on inspirational role model Ndaye Mulamba was to their generation.

For now, Mulamba's wish is to continue his coaching career. He has been involved in local and provincial football tournaments with refugee soccer teams and coached and won the South African refugee soccer tournament in 2007.

Mulamba says: "I want to be recognised as the player that I was but I have found a new sense of purpose in still being alive to enjoy the simple touch of a soccer ball."

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