Iwan's South Africa trip is eye-opener
Former Norwich City striker Iwan Roberts will tonight reveal his dismay at the state of South Africa after visiting the country during the World Cup. The ex-Canary star travelled to the tournament to make a documentary for ITV Wales - but came away believing that the proceeds from the greatest football show on earth will do little to improve the lives of the host nation's poorest people.
Former Norwich City striker Iwan Roberts will tonight reveal his dismay at the state of South Africa after visiting the country during the World Cup.
The ex-Canary star travelled to the tournament to make a documentary for ITV Wales - but came away believing that the proceeds from the greatest football show on earth will do little to improve the lives of the host nation's poorest people.
He argues that FIFA and World Cup sponsors could afford to do more for those living in poverty in South Africa.
As a player, Roberts missed out on travelling to the World Cup. He won 15 caps for Wales - but his home nation's solitary appearance at the finals came in 1958, before he was born.
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However, he travelled to this year's tournament with flagship Welsh language TV programme Y Byd ar Bedwar (The World on Four) to assess how the football extravaganza would benefit South Africa. On arriving in Johannesburg two weeks ago he revealed he 'hoped the money the World Cup will bring to South Africa will benefit people in poor communities'.
Spending just over a week with programme-makers, the 41-year-old Roberts met up with Shaun Bartlett, a football friend from his Premiership playing days.
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Roberts, who banged in 96 goals for the Canaries in his seven years with the club, traced the history of his friend, travelling to the Cape Flats, an area on the outskirts of Cape Town notorious for crime, gangsters and drug problems. On visiting Bartlett's childhood home, a three-bedroom bungalow which housed 12 at the time, he remarked 'he was determined to move away from this area and make the best of what he had - fair play to him for that.'
Roberts also visited Aids charity Wola Nani, based in Cape Town. In the new role of referee, he took the whistle in a five-a-side football tournament arranged by the charity for children affected by the HIV virus. The tournament was held at a FIFA-financed pitch at the heart of Cape Town's Khayelitsha township, built to bring hope to the impoverished community.
But Roberts said: 'I don't think building a pitch like the one the children played on is going to prove very expensive to FIFA. I think they and some of the big companies who sponsor the World Cup could do a little more to help areas like this.'
His biggest shock came when visiting a government-built town known as Blikkiesdorp - Afrikaans for 'tin town' - by the residents. It is a community of 6,000 people rehoused from various parts of Cape Town in one-room tin houses with no running water. A night-time curfew prevents residents from leaving their homes after 9pm. 'When you think this country can't surprise you any more, you see this,' said Roberts, on leaving Blikkiesdorp.
t To see more of Iwan Roberts' journey to South Africa, watch S4C's Y Byd ar Bedwar, tonight, 9.30 p.m. Sky channel 134, freesat 120. English subtitles available.