The first Football for Hope Centre in Khayelitsha in the outskirts of Cape Town opened its doors this weekend, following the very successful World Cup Finals Draw held in the city on Friday night.
Among the special guests were Football for Hope ambassador and former Bafana Bafana captain Lucas Radebe, who himself grew up in a less fortunate neighbourhood before going on to become a legend of South African football, captaining Leeds United in the Premier League and playing almost 200 games in England's top flight.
The centre, which is the first of 20 community centres, will help to tackle HIV/AIDS and some of the biggest issues facing young people across the African continent. “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 the FIFA President.
“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 Centres for 2010,” Blatter told FIFA.com.
The next five centres will be built by FIFA and its strategic ally streetfootballworld in disadvantaged communities in Kenya, Namibia, Mali, Rwanda and Ghana and will address crucial issues like health, education, gender equality, peace-building and the environment as well as HIV and AIDS – considered to be one of the greatest challenges faced by young people in Africa.
The centre in Khayelitsha has been built in an area once notorious for crime and violence as part of an initiative to breathe new life into the community. It provides rooms for public health services and informal education, office space, common space for community gatherings and a turf football pitch.
“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. 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,” explained Nematandani to FIFA.com.
Each of the 20 centres will be run by an existing community organisation. The Football for Hope Centre in Khayelitsha will be managed by Grassroot Soccer, a South African-based non-profit organisation that uses football to educate young people about HIV and AIDS and empower them with the knowledge to live HIV-free.
Peter Pedroncelli, Goal.com