FIFA's first Football for Hope centre, a key 2010 World Cup legacy project, opened in a township outside Cape Town Saturday, using football to coach children about how to avoid becoming infected with the HIV virus.
The Khayelitsha Football for Hope Centre is the first of 20 such centres across Africa that the governing football body FIFA is building or developing, to ensure ordinary Africans benefit from hosting the World Cup long after the tournament has ended.
"We have said for years there shall be a legacy in Africa when we bring FIFA' World Cup to Africa," FIFA president Joseph Blatter told around 300 community members, VIPs and media gathered at the centre for the official opening Saturday.
"It's the first time what we said - football for hope - is a reality," he said, to cheers.
Grassroot Soccer, a South African-based organisation that uses football to educate young people about HIV/Aids, will run the centre on behalf of FIFA and Streetfootballworld, a global charity that also uses football for development.
With over 1.2 million residents, Khayelitsha, which is located about 30km from central Cape Town in an area known as the Cape Flats is one of the country's biggest townships.
Most families in Khayelitsha live in jumbled seas of shacks that have been cobbled together out of sheets of corrugated iron or wood.
Unemployment in the area is estimated at between 60% and 65%. Most people in Khayelitsha have lost someone close to them due to HIV/Aids, a disease that has infected one in nine South Africans.
At the launch, Grassroots Soccer coaches demonstrated how they use football to address HIV by getting teams of children to dribble a football past signs marked "multiple partners," , "peer pressure" and other factors that aggravate the spread of the virus. - (Sapa/dpa, December 2009)