Pienaar flies Football for Hope flag

21 December 2010

Gifted South African midfielder Steven Pienaar has been named as the ambassador for Fifa’s Football for Hope programme, a unique global movement that uses the power of football to achieve sustainable social development.

The global football governing body made the announcement on Monday.

Football for Hope

Football for Hope was launched in 2005 with the aim of helping children and youngsters in poor communities to transform their lives through football.

The social investment and development programme operates on a global scale, and includes among its projects the 20 Centres for 2010 campaign initiated ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

The campaign aims to build 20 centres around Africa to help address some of the challenges faced by the continent, including education and public health.

So far, four Football for Hope centres have been built: in Kayelitsha outside Cape Town, South Africa; Mathare in Nairobi, Kenya; Katutura township in Windhoek, Namibia; and in Baguineda, Mali.

Football ‘kept me going’

Pienaar can certainly identify with the issues that Football for Hope tackles, having grown up surrounded by poverty in Johannesburg’s Westbury township.

In an interview with Fifa.com, the Everton midfielder said football had given him “focus and something to cherish and love, allowing me to take my mind off the problems at home.

“As a young kid it was difficult because there were so many things going on around you and you were stuck in the middle of it … Football just kept me going and kept us away from all the difficulties and challenges we all faced as young kids.”

Pienaar said that South Africans’ love of football went a long way to explaining the success of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

“Of course it also shows the rest of the world that football is alive and you can go to different continents and people will make the most of the chance, as football brings people together.”

On Bafana Bafana’s new coach

Asked about new Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane, Pienaar likened him to Everton manager David Moyes: “He’s a workaholic. He doesn’t sleep, the only thing he does is watch football, and he’s a great coach who works hard and demands the highest level of discipline from everyone.

“He also wants to be involved with the players’ lives off the pitch,” Pienaar said. “He wants the players to always be happy, which is important – he’s like a father figure – and I think he deserves to be the national team coach.”

Asked if he had a message for young people in South Africa and around the world, Pienaar said: “The challenges in life can make your dreams seem far from you, it can make you believe you’ll never reach your goals. But if you have belief and faith you can reach your goals, and if you keep pushing and going, God will open the doors for you that are shut.”

SAinfo reporter

Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material