The President of South Africa Jacob Zuma and FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter attended the opening of the Football For Hope Festival 2010 in Alexandra today and spoke to FIFA.com about their hopes for the future of social development in South Africa, Africa and the world in general.
The opening of the Festival was a milestone in Football For Hope’s work, as it was the first in the organisation’s history; evidence to FIFA’s mission of ‘building a better future’ with improved healthcare and the provision of education for young people the key aims.
After addressing the public to thank everyone who made the Festival possible, many of whom were participating or looking on with pride, the two Presidents then talked about the legacy that the event would provide.
FIFA.com: Your Excellency, what does FIFA’s legacy of Football for Hope mean to South Africa?
South African President Jacob Zuma: It means a lot to South Africa. Firstly, the FIFA World Cup itself is one of the biggest events that South Africa has ever had, but Football for Hope has brought this spectacle right here to Alexandra. I think this is that legacy – most people here and all of us will never forget that there was the Football for Hope festival here in Alexandra. So this is a legacy for our young people, for old, for everyone that will never go away from our minds.
In your opinion, can the FIFA World Cup and the Football for Hope movement serve to inspire other African countries?
Certainly, I think it will certainly achieve this and I wish this Football for Hope Festival could actually be taken to other countries in the continent, because it just fits the environment and it does also create the hope. It goes to the people who need these kind of activities, I think I would be very happy to see it going further and further in the continent of Africa.
FIFA.com: President Blatter, would you say that the opening of this Football for Hope festival marks an important milestone in FIFA’s legacy for the 2010 FIFA World Cup?
Joseph S. Blatter: Yes, it is one of the hottest topics because it is just a day when we can make public what we have already realised in our Football for Hope project, by bringing together people from all around the world in this festival. It represents the universality of our game and also the universality of the World Cup. But concerning the legacy, the movement of Football for Hope, which we have started with the decision to make 20 Centres in Africa and other projects around the world, means there is education and also healthcare, linked with football. There was not a better opportunity than at the end of the competition, with just the last four matches remaining, to start with this competition here, which is a very special one.
In order to improve education and healthcare around the world for the coming generations, would you say that the Football for Hope movement has laid an important foundation?
Yes, absolutely. It was the idea not only behind this World Cup but the idea behind football. It has been repeated before and if I say it, it has not the same the value as if the President of the Republic of South Africa is saying it, but football is more than kicking a ball and this I have realised since the very beginning of my career. You can say that football can bring people together but more than that, football is a school of life because the essence of football is discipline and respect and if you transmit discipline and respect not only on the field of play but towards your families, towards your business, towards your friends then football can play a very important social, cultural role in education and this is the hope we have in football. Football can do that because it is the most popular game in the world.