"I am so proud to be living in South Africa right now; we are about to host the FIFA World Cup and it is so exciting to be a part of it all," says 15-year old Zanele Mazibuko.
Mazibuko, an aspirant civil engineer, goes to school just kilometres down the road from Soccer City stadium, which will host eight matches at next year's tournament, including the opening and the closing match.
"The stadium really inspires me as it shows what South Africans are capable of," says Mazibuko.
Thanks to the launch of the Ticket Fund, school children like Mazibuko, as well the construction workers that built the stadium she so admires, actually have the chance to be inside Soccer City to watch one of the World Cup matches in person next year.
Launched today at Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown, Soweto, the Ticket fund will see 120,000 tickets, for all matches from the opening to the final, being given on a complimentary basis to deserving South Africans who ordinarily would not have the means to purchase a ticket. Of the 120,000 tickets, 40,000 will go to 2010 FIFA World Cup stadium construction workers, who will be given two tickets each to watch a game at the stadium they help build.
The remaining 80,000 tickets will not be given as hand outs, Mazibuko and her classmates who were present at the launch, as well as school children, teachers, parents and community leaders across South Africa, will need to participate in ticket fund programmes run by FIFA Partners to qualify.
The programmes are various and include educating children on health and nutrition, environmental awareness programmes, programmes that teach low-income workers financial skills and art and football competitions for school children. Tickets will be given out as rewards or incentives by the FIFA Partners through these programmes.
"As the first fully fledged FIFA World Cup (with 32 participating teams) to be hosted in a developing country, it has always been important to us that it leaves a legacy. The launch of this fund ensures, through the programmes it supports, that we are looking beyond 2010, using the World Cup and football to make a difference in our communities," said 2010 FIFA World Cup CEO Danny Jordaan at the launch.
"The whole initiative started with an idea in line with our philosophy to use our tournaments to help promote football around the world but also to help build a better future through football," said FIFA Marketing Director, Thierry Weil. "We hope that, at least in a small way, the opportunities created for the participants will have a positive impact on their lives and communities."