Football for Hope in Khayelitsha

17 December 2009

Africa’s first Football for Hope centre, the first of 20 centres for education, public health and football that will be built across Africa as part of the 20 Centres for 2010 campaign, has opened its doors in Khayelitsha on the outskirts of Cape Town.

Fifa President Sepp Blatter, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, 2010 Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan, SA Football Association president Kirsten Nematandani and Cape Town Executive Mayor Dan Plato were present at the official opening of the centre on 5 December.

“With the opening of this Football for Hope Centre, we can now see the real legacy that the 2010 Fifa World Cup will leave in Africa,” said Blatter. “This centre will use people’s passion for football to transform communities and to provide hope and opportunities for young people. Many years from now, people will still be benefiting from this and the other 20 Centres for 2010.”

A partnership venture between Fifa and streetfootballworld, 20 Centres for 2010 is the official social responsibility campaign for the 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa™.

Urban regeneration

Khayelitsha’s Football for Hope Centre will form part of the city of Cape Town’s regeneration programme for Khayelitsha, one of South Africa’s biggest and poorest townships.

The centre will tackle the problem of HIV/Aids in the community, and serve as a platform to improve education and health levels among young people, in addition to boasting an artificial football pitch.

The centre will be run on behalf of Football for Hope by Grassroot Soccer, a non-profit organisation with a strong track record of HIV/Aids prevention in South Africa’s Western Cape province

“We are hoping that this initiative will have a positive influence in our society and enhance our efforts to build a better future for our young people,” Nematandani said. “For us it was always important that this Fifa World Cup would touch the lives of ordinary people, and this campaign is a great example.”

‘Once a crime hot-spot’

The area on which the centre was built is loaded with memories for local residents, and not necessarily good ones. Formerly an abandoned marshland, it was also the most dangerous part of the township.

“Until now it was considered as a crime hot-spot, but now it’s going to be seen as a place of activity that people will be able to benefit from,” says the chairperson of the Khayelitsha Development Forum, Zamayedwa Sogayise, who along with many others did much to ensure the centre was built in precisely that location.

“Everyone here was delighted when we heard that the centre would be built here,” says Gladys Zoleka Masiza, a local inhabitant. “Now our children will have somewhere to play.

“Sometimes our youngsters fall into delinquency and theft,” adds Masiza. “Now they realise things are changing; there’s a light now, and everyone can see them. They can no longer get away with doing whatever.”

The next five 20 Centres for 2010 centre will be built in disadvantaged communities in Kenya, Namibia, Mali, Rwanda and Ghana.