While all eyes are on the World Cup, a silent revolution is taking place here, an important venue of the Cup. The tool for protest is, of course, soccer. Down the road from a constitutional court that is charged with upholding gay rights, South Africa's only lesbian soccer team fights not just for the ball but to overturn prejudice and discrimination.
The “Chosen Few” play with skill and huge enthusiasm despite the scrappy dirt wasteground bordered by a large puddle, a few hundred metres from the imposing Constitutional Court in central Johannesburg.
“We tried many other places,” said Lerato Marumolwa, one of the players. “But they just won't let us in.”
Such frustration is minor compared to the so-called “corrective” rape, murder, insults and beatings that South African black lesbians have frequently suffered from men, despite the widely admired, post-apartheid constitution which was the first in the world to ban discrimination on sexual orientation.
Naturally, Marumolwa, 21, and her teammates are more than just soccer players. They campaign to overturn prejudice. The group demonstrated outside the court where one of the murderers of former South African national women’s soccer team player Eudy Simelane was tried and sentenced last year. Simelane was raped and stabbed 25 times in a township on the edge of Johannesburg.
The Chosen Few was launched in 2004 by the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) and the players say the team has become a refuge for them.
“In the townships we get raped, we get beaten up...FEW is my family,” said Marumolwa.
The team won bronze medals in the soccer competition at the Gay Games in Chicago in 2006.
This July and August, just after the World Cup ends, they will compete again at the Gay Games in Germany.
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