Several times have I heard that sports is a unifying force, but I failed to analyze how it could be so, since it usually involves the pitting of one team against another in what seems to be an undeadly combat. Yes, there might be the teamwork within teams in games, and there possibly is unity among the supporters of a particular team, but what often happens is that quarrels do come with these activities, not to mention the practice of some to hurt others. Still, I am awed whenever I see the Filipino people gathered in different places cheering behind one famous boxer that is Pacquiao. I am awed whenever I see people cheering for olympic candidates even if they are not their countrymen. Most of all, I am awed by what the film “Invictus” showed me.
In the Philippines, this film was shown in theatres since only a few days ago. Just in time for the conduct of the Winter Olympics in Canada, I thought. Maybe I am right, or maybe I am wrong. What matters though is neither this nor the fact that Mandela used Theodore Roosevelt’s “The Man in the Arena” instead of William Ernest Henley’s “Invictus”. What matter is the fact that sports do unite a nation. And this film shows a true story of how Rugby was used to unite a rising nation from apartheid–an era of discrimination and hatred.
The film is a great film because it was able to highlight the different themes in apartheid and post-apartheid Africa. It was able to highlight the oppression, hatred and racial discrimination widespread at that time. Furthermore, it was able to show the filmgoers how certain things including sports had been associated with these negative concepts. For one, the almost all-white Springboks team of South Africa had long been associated by the blacks with their oppressors, causing them to cheer for the team that is fighting South Africa in various games. So comes the challenge for Nelson Mandela of how one can retain Springboks which is a team very close to the hearts of the Afrikaners while making the native Africans–the Blacks–support the same group which they consider associated to their oppressors.
What we do know is that he spent time breaking racial barriers in a personal level by personally coaching the team captain Francois Pienaar, by knowing their names individually, and by making them interact with the kids of the Black majority which view them as enemies. Doing so, Mandela was able to make the entire country–blacks and whites, Afrikaners and Negroes–support the same team to the Championship of the Rugby World Cup.
True enough, sports is a unifying force. And the movie showed us that unity is a winning strategy in the field of Sports. After all, what inspired the Springboks to win the Championship are not only the 63,000 supporters in the Stadium, but also the more than forty million South Africans throughout the country.
In short, the film is a must for all sports aficionados out there who have focused their ambitions to become a leading figure in the sports world but it is not that easy as you need to have a burning passion inside you to slug it out day and night and the field should be like a 안전놀이터.