Africa welcomes first Football for Hope centres
© FIFA.com

The announcement of the designation of the first five Football for Hope centres, a product of the strategic alliance between FIFA and streetfootballworld, was warmly greeted across Africa.

The first five Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) whose job it will be to manage a portion of Africa's Football for Hope centres have been announced. The NGOs in question are the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA, Kenya), Play Soccer (Ghana), the Association des Jeunes Sportifs de Kigali Espérance (Rwanda), Grassroot Soccer (South Africa) and the Association Malienne pour la Promotion de la Jeune Fille et de la Femme (AMPJF, Mali).

These five centres form part of the official campaign of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, "20 Centres for 2010", which was launched on 25 November 2007 ahead of the Preliminary Draw in Durban. By the end of the first FIFA World Cup™ on African soil, the campaign aims to have raised USD 10 million to finance the construction of 20 Football for Hope centres across Africa.

Each centre will include a mini-pitch (20m x 20m), classrooms and healthcare facilities, providing young people a place to play as well as giving them access to counselling, health and educational services.

"This is great news! A Football for Hope centre in Nairobi would provide a huge boost to our efforts and be the culmination of 20 years' work. We hope this centre can help in the education of thousands of Kenyan children," said officials at MYSA, the NGO whose team of talented footballers took home the Copa Andres Escobar after winning the inaugural Street Football World Cup played in Berlin in July 2006.

The news was also greeted with joy in Ghana, where the Play Soccer network will be tasked with running a centre. "This is a landmark decision. With much honour and emotion, we hope this centre can help African development through football," said Judy McPherson, head of Play Soccer.

Football's potential to create a social legacy is well known to Esperance, a Rwandan association that has been using football-based activities to try to heal the wounds left by genocide. "The construction of the Football for Hope centres will contribute to the promotion of sport, education and other social activities in Rwanda and the wider world," remarked Donatien Nsengimana, the president of Esperance.

Grassroot Soccer, an organisation committed to combating the spread of HIV/AIDS in certain African countries, has also been awarded the management of a centre. Its executive director, Kirk Friedrich, had this to say after the announcement: "We're proud to accept this designation. The Football for Hope centre will allow us to have the kind of infrastructure we require in the field and it will also boost our work."

In Mali, meanwhile, AMPJF president Souadou Diabate summed up the feeling among those chosen to become pillars of Football for Hope in Africa when she said: "We're committed to making these initial centres an example for all Africa."

"20 Centres for 2010" is not only a milestone for Africa, but for all the football family. That is because, for the first time, the FIFA World Cup™ will have its own campaign aimed at harnessing the power of football to drive positive social change. It is hoped that the legacy it leaves will survive long after 2010 and the accompanying footballing spectacle.

That is why FIFA, supported by its Partners adidas, Coca-Cola, Emirates, Hyundai, Sony and Visa, will donate USD 500 every time the ball hits the back of the net in the 800+ qualifying matches for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.