With the application process for volunteers for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ closing last week, many last-minute applicants were rushing to beat the deadline, perhaps nowhere more so than in Alexandra, where a queue of hopefuls of all ages could be seen winding down the stairs at Thusong Youth Centre.
During the application process, an average of 1,500 people per day have been applying through FIFA.com for the chance to be selected as one of the 15,000 FIFA World Cup volunteers. For those in Alexandra, however, the opportunity was even more special, as they were signing up to volunteer at an official FIFA World Cup™ event right in the heart of their community.
The Football for Hope Festival 2010 will be a celebration of the social dimension of the game, and will feature a 32-team tournament in a specially constructed stadium in Alexandra. The teams taking part will represent organisations from around the world that use football to address issues such as HIV and AIDS, landmine education, homelessness, gang culture and much more. An official part of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, the festival is being organised by FIFA, streetfootballworld, the Organising Committee and the City of Johannesburg.
One of the key goals of the Football for Hope Festival 2010 is to provide as many opportunities as possible to people from the host community. So, for the last three weeks, members of the festival organising team have been at Thusong Youth Centre, next door to the festival site, to help people through the online application.
"I heard about this opportunity on the radio, and I really hope I can be selected because I am passionate about soccer," said 18-year-old Joy Latty Lomola. "I think that all the delegations coming to Alexandra next year will find us very warm and welcoming. They will enjoy experiencing the heritage of Alexandra."
"We think it's very important that the community feels part of the Football for Hope Festival 2010" said Sikhumbuzo Mnculwane, an Alexandra resident who is also the festival organising team's Community Liaison Officer. "You don't get many opportunities in a community like Alex to be part of a huge international event, and this can really do a lot for people's self-esteem."
"Recently Alex has had a lot of bad publicity," he added. "It seems like no-one ever says anything good about us. But with this festival we have the chance to show the world that something wonderful can happen here."