News / Africa

Young Footballers Play for Reconciliation, Social Change

Eighteen year-old Sello Mahlangu is the coach of Team Alexandra
Eighteen year-old Sello Mahlangu is the coach of Team Alexandra

As the 2010 football World Cup enters its final hours in South Africa, another football tournament is taking place in the impoverished township of Alexandra, in northeastern Johannesburg. Several hundred young people from disadvantaged communities in nearly 40 countries are competing for the 'Football for Hope' trophy.

A team of Israeli and Palestinian boys and girls, called the Peace Team, battles against a squad from Rwanda, called Hope, in the Football for Hope tournament.

The participants are from disadvantaged communities, many of which have been scarred by conflict and poverty. There are teams from Sierra Leone, Cambodia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia as well as from Australia, Britain and the United States.

There are no referees in the tournament. The players must settle any fouls or disputes themselves.

The matches have attracted thousands of fans from this struggling Johannesburg community, to celebrate hope and social change.

The football governing body -- FIFA -- sponsors the program, in partnership with 50 civic groups.

"The purpose of Football for Hope is that of using the power of the game, football, in order to address social challenges around the world," explained Federico Addiechi, FIFA's head of Corporate Responsibility. "It's a movement that was created back in 2005 in order to address those social challenges, in order to make a concrete contribution with the game of football."

On a field nearby, neighborhood children kick footballs into a net in exchange for prizes.  

The "football for hope" program seeks to promote education on health and children's rights, peace-building, anti-discrimination, HIV/AIDS and the environment.

Sello Mahlangu, 18, is the coach of Team Alexandra, which is hosting the tournament. A local volunteer, he lives with his mother and three siblings in Alexandra.

"This event has done a lot for me," he said. "I've been to many places, done many interviews. It has given me opportunities to showcase my potential."

This is the first tournament FIFA has held as part of its 'Football for Hope' program.  Addiechi says there will be more because FIFA wants the World Cup to leave a legacy.

"The Football for Hope movement is our permanent activity," he explained. "It's part of our social responsibility and has been going on now for five years. And it will continue long after 2010 and even 2014 [the next World Cup]."

FIFA has pledged to build 20 Football for Hope Centers across Africa this year. Each center is to contain sports fields as well as facilities for education and health care.

Addiechi says FIFA wants to show that football can be a powerful force to unite communities and improve the lives of less fortunate people.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid