More than 300 African sports journalists will be invited to attend training next year as part of a programme financed by FIFA, world football's governing body. Training will be provided by the AFP Foundation, an independent, non-profit organisation set up by Agence France-Presse, one of the three global news agencies.
Reporters and photographers from all 53 countries in Africa will gather twice in eight cities, each time for a week-long course. The courses will form part of FIFA's Win in Africa with Africa project, launched after South Africa was chosen to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
"I firmly believe that the 2010 FIFA World Cup represents a unique opportunity to create positive social change across Africa" said FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, who signed an agreement with AFP Foundation Director Robert Holloway on Tuesday.
"Four years ago, when FIFA announced that South Africa would host the 2010 tournament, we set out to ensure that long after the FIFA World Cup™ final in Johannesburg, there would be a legacy left not only for African football, but also for African society in general. We set out to achieve this with the partnership and active participation of the local population, and this programme is an example of such cooperation coming to fruition."
Speaking on behalf of the AFP Foundation's President, Pierre Louette, Mr Holloway said: "We are proud that FIFA has asked us to take part in Win in Africa with Africa, a project with a similar philosophy to ours. Their idea is not so much to give aid to Africa as to provide the continent with the tools to progress and develop. We aspire to give journalists skills which they can pass on to their colleagues and to future generations. Our mission is to teach those who may become tomorrow's teachers."
The training will be given by AFP football correspondents or photographers, working in four languages: Arabic, English, French and Portuguese. The courses will be scheduled to coincide with the qualifying rounds for the FIFA World Cup™ and the Africa Cup of Nations in the first and second halves of the year. Between these, the AFP Foundation will provide some online instruction via its website.
The EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, has promised financial support for the project, which should give a new impetus to relations between Europe and Africa. The EU recognises the important contribution that football can make to education and peace in Africa and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with FIFA to that effect in Berlin on 9 July 2006.
Set up in July 2007, the AFP Foundation has worked with a variety of partners, including the UN Development Programme and the European Reconstruction Agency. Its most recent project was a ground-breaking course on objective reporting in conflict zones, delivered in Beirut last month.