The boys and girls, ranging from toddlers to teenagers, belong to one of the many projects all over the world that are using the huge power of football to help underprivileged children overcome social problems.
Football's ruling body will use next year's World Cup for the first time
to promote these projects through a "Football for Hope" festival
running alongside the football extravaganza, which attracts the world's
biggest cumulative television audience.
FIFA has combined with the global NGO streetfootballworld to create
Football for Hope and the kids in the sprawling Johannesburg township
of Alexandra belong to one of its members, Play Soccer, which trains
hundreds of children twice a week.
The Football for Hope festival will take place in the second half of
the month-long World Cup, which starts next June 11, in a 3 000-seat
stadium yet to be built next to this sports field.
organisations from around the world - the same number of nations as in
the World Cup - have been chosen to take part, based not on their
football pedigree, but on the success of projects to address social
issues like homelessness in London, landmines in Cambodia, gang
violence in Colombia and South Africa's scourge of Aids.
"The idea is we show the power of soccer to achieve social change,
while the eyes of the world are on South Africa," said Football for
Hope Communications Manager Mike Geddes to SuperSport.
Goal.com spoke to children in Alexandra, who stand to benefit from this initiative. Thirteen-year-old Rodney said, "I feel very lucky to get this attention and to train like this. I love soccer and it is my dream to play for (Orlando) Pirates. I want to be like Teko Modise."
Simphiwe is ten years old, and he agreed with Rodney, having this to say: "The World Cup is coming next year, and I want to support the players by playing and training to be good like them. I love playing with my friends and like this we are learning while we play, so our parents are happy."
Once again the power of football to unite and educate comes through, and the host nation of next year's event is certainly making the most of the sport, by developing the youth as footballers and people.
Peter Pedroncelli, Goal.com