Global Master’s Program 2019  Final Report(Makoto YAZAKI)

Global Master’s Program 2019 Final Report(Makoto YAZAKI)

The South Africa round of the Global Master’s Programme (GMP) was held at the University of Johannesburg from 25th February until 20th March 2019. This final chapter of our GMP journey had a strong focus on “Conducting research on poverty while looking at the social context of racial issues in South Africa”. 10 students from Utrecht University, University of Johannesburg and the University of Tsukuba gathered for a four-week intensive course from around the globe to conclude the Global Master’s journey at the University of Johannesburg (UJ).

Our UJ program was divided into three components, theories in class, practical lessons and research on the field. We spent the first two weeks to understand the social context of sports and development activities in South Africa along with diverse research methods from the UJ professors. These lectures gave us a broad view of understanding on the settings in South Africa which were significantly different from the previous rounds in the Netherlands and Japan. Students also explored the country outside of our classes to have an overview of the social context. Firstly, we visited the Apartheid museum which displayed the tragedy of the white hegemonic domination where we saw both the dark and bright sides of the history in South Africa. Later when we walked through downtown, it did not take some time for us to sense the dark sides of Johannesburg. There were many beggars on the streets, most of them were those people who were classified as colored in the Apartheid era who were asking for money or doing somewhat small business to generate income for their households. We acknowledged these circumstances as a showcase for their high unemployment rate which records 27.1% as on January 2019 of its entire population in South Africa. Making money and doing entrepreneurship in South Africa is not a business, it is a survival process. We also spotted a somewhat racial divide at a sporting context too. On 16th March, students traveled to watch a Super Rugby game Lions v Melbourne Rebels in the famous Ellis Park in Johannesburg which is known as the venue for the 1995 Rugby World Cup Final. Most of the spectators at the site were white men and woman, whereas in football most of them were colored people. In the UK at its origin of both football and rugby, there is an old saying that, “Football is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans, and rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen.” One case cannot illustrate the country’s entire situation. However, this showcased the racial divide to some extent of the relationship between rugby and football. These in and outside classroom experiences allowed us to observe the social context of South Africa from a broad perspective.

(Super Rugby Round 5, Lions vs Melbourne Rebels @ Ellis Park, Johannesburg)

Leading up from these experiences, 10 Global Masters students traveled to Geluksburg, a very rural and isolated place in KwaZulu-Natal to conduct on-field qualitative research about their local sports activities run by the “Sportstec”. CEO Mike and his colleagues have been providing aid and support to this area since 2005 to promote sports opportunities and employment for people in the KwaZulu-Natal region where many people suffer from issues such as poverty, unemployment, HIV / AIDs infection, etc. In our research, we conducted interviews with school principals, students and locals to investigate the effects of Sportstec in the community. It was clear through our study that Sportstec has brought a positive impact on people’s lives in the past 15 years after entering the field.

(Teaching body movements to local Zulu school students.)

Following are key results found from our research about the relation between Sportstec and the Geluksburg community.

  1. Physical education program introduced to schools by Sportstec plays an integral part of the community today.
  2. Sports meetings led by Sportstec is one of the most exciting events in the village.
  3. Shortage of physical education teachers is an issue.
  4. Securing transportation is also a huge problem.
  5. The unemployment rate is over 50% in the Geluksburg/Greenpoint village

These results suggest that Sportstec has enriched people’s lives by introducing their sports contents to the community. However, the unemployment rate still exceeds 50% in the village of Geluksburg/Greenpoint with a population of 6,000 people, and sports has not been able to solve these fundamental social issues yet. This unemployment issue in this Zulu cultural region cannot go without saying about the strong influence from the long-standing racial issues, the Apartheid in South Africa.

It has been almost 25 years after the demolition of Apartheid. However, those issues still do remain at the bottom of people’s hearts. Apartheid had a robust white domination policy in 1948-1994, whites had vast land and funds, whereas colored people could only earn small sums in society. These colored people who live in rural areas lack the opportunity for employment and education, resulting in a social structure where people are trapped in the poverty spiral where it has been a challenge for them to change their lives dramatically. The Apartheid policy was abolished in 1994, but ethical, and poverty issues still remain in the South African society today, and fundamental solutions have not been reached. Therefore, we need to start from small steps. What more crucial it is to have the heart to accept other human beings to make this world a better place more than introducing a new policy through the government. Nelson Mandela during the Apartheid era forgave those people who imprisoned him in Robben Island for 27 years of his life. It always starts with those small steps to make a difference in the world.

In this Global Master’s Program, we shared food and shelter with people from the Netherlands, Japan, and South Africa who come from such diverse backgrounds. We as a group always challenged those problems rooted in the social context while being on the same page with students and stakeholders to reach a holistic solution to tackle these challenges. Through our journey, we realized that there are still a tremendous number of issues around the world. We yet do not know how much the power of sports can contribute towards problem-solving. However, we must continue to impose our message “Use the power of sports as global leaders” without looking away from the inequalities around the world to show them a pathway towards a better life. I will cherish all the memories we had during our journey and am very confident that these experiences with the Global Masters Programme will be the ones that will stay with me forever.

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