Football brings Hope to Alexandra

1 July 2010

While the World Cup has brought the greatest football teams on the planet to South Africa, the Football for Hope Festival 2010 will assemble 32 teams that represent the power of the game to bring about social change.

From 4 to 10 July, 32 mixed teams of boys and girls aged 15 to 18 years from across the globe will be in Alexandra, in northeastern Johannesburg, for a festival of football. The participating teams will represent organisations that use football to tackle issues such as ethnic violence, environmental pollution, HIV/Aids education, landmine education and gang culture.

For the first time ever, the social dimension of the game will be integrated into an official Fifa World Cup event. Football for Hope is more than just a football tournament; each team has been selected not for their skill on the pitch but for their contribution to social change in disadvantaged communities around the world.

During their stay in South Africa, they will not only play football but will also take part in workshops and activities where they will learn from each other and improve their work.

50 organisations, 32 countries

They represent over 50 organisations from 32 countries, including traditional football powers like Germany, Cameroon, Brazil and Argentina, as well as others such as India, Lesotho, Tahiti, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Australia, Zimbabwe and Rwanda.

The festival will include a programme of cultural celebration by the international visitors and their South African hosts. The City of Johannesburg, which has organised the festival along with Fifa, Streetfootballworld and the 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa Organising Committee, hopes that it will help write a new chapter in the history of Alexandra, a suburb of Johannesburg.

According to Fifa’s Henry Nasale, the director of the Football for Hope centres, the 2010 World Cup has never just been about football, economic gains or increased figures for the country, although those are all effects of the tournament.

Ever since South Africa won the bid to host the 2010 tournament, the main focus of the event and its organisers had been to create an African tournament and awareness of the issues that the continent faced, he said.

Football for Hope Centres

While the Football for Hope Festival is not just about Africa – it is about tackling issues across the world – Fifa says it is on track to roll out about 20 Football for Hope centres on the continent after the World Cup ends. These are a major legacy the world football governing body wants to leave behind after the first World Cup in Africa.

The centres will feature a mini-pitch, along with classrooms and healthcare facilities, providing the youth with access to counselling, health and educational services.

“We are definitely on track and we want to complete the centres by 2012. In fact, work on three of the centres will start in Nairobi and [the rest of] Kenya in the next three weeks,” said Nasale.

‘We are receiving a lot of support’

“We are receiving a lot of support from the governments and local communities, so indeed our work is progressing and people will be seeing these legacy centres very soon. It’s just a matter of time.”

Five of the centres will be built in South Africa, with one already operational in Khayelitsha, in Cape Town. It is used as a vehicle to promote education, health and community development in the township.

Nasale said each centre was designed in close collaboration with its community to ensure that the infrastructure was consistent with local needs. Football-based activities would take place at the centres to provide an out-of-school learning experience for young people.

Lucas Radebe

Former Bafana Bafana captain Lucas Radebe, who was a leading light for Leeds United for many years, has lent his name to Football for Hope. He believes football should go beyond the pitch.

“I think the time has come for football to make an impact in the lives of people,” he said. “Many of us have become role models through football and many kids look up to us so it only makes sense that we are involved in some kind of community development.

“The centres emphasize what we refer to as the power of football because with this game you can do anything. And what better way to use the power of the sport than investing in community upliftment? I’m happy to be part of this.”

Radebe will travel around the continent helping Fifa set up the centres.

Source: City of Johannesburg