International football stars took the pitch in front of thousands of delighted fans in Alexandra township in Johannesburg on Thursday in support of the Football for Hope Festival.
A celebrity team of ‘Football for Hope All Stars’, led by former France international and 1998 FIFA World Cup-winner Christian Karembeu and Ghana football legend Anthony Baffoe, took on a side from ‘Show Me Your Number’ – a campaign which uses football stars as role models in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
The two sides played out a thrilling 2-2 draw in the specially-constructed stadium which is located in the heart of Alexandra, one of South Africa’s most deprived communities.
“For me it’s a wonderful experience to come to Alexandra”, said former Real Madrid and Les Bleus midfielder Karembeu. “It’s very important for us players to give something back to communities like this. It’s our responsibility”.
Former Ghana international Anthony Baffoe added: “Being here today, I feel like I’m home”, he said, before taking the opportunity to reflect on the Black Stars' success at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. “I’m so happy to see that Africa has made this World Cup a success. Of course I knew we would pull it off and it’s great to see Africa united as one”, he said.
Former Bafana Bafana international and lifelong Alexandra resident Maimane Alfred Phiri and Kaizer Chiefs striker Jose Torrealba also turned out in support of Football for Hope, the movement led by FIFA and streetfootballworld, an NGO that connects a global network of organisations promoting positive social change through football.
32 delegations of young people from disadvantaged communities around the world are in South Africa to celebrate the Football for Hope movement and are taking part in a festival of education, music and culture that runs until Saturday 10 July.
The teams are each made up of young boys and girls aged 15-18 and include a joint Israeli-Palestinian team, a team of refugees from Australia, young homeless people from the UK and street children from Nigeria.