Two years after the inauguration of the first of the ‘20 Centres for 2010’ in the African continent, the fruits of this ambitious legacy project of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ are being enjoyed by many within the communities in which they are situated. Not only has it impacted lives of ordinary people in disadvantaged communities in the African continent, but it has inspired a positive change in the lives of many youths who attend the Football for Hope Centres on a daily basis.

It was in 2009 – on the day after the South Africa 2010 Final Draw in Cape Town – that the first Football for Hope Centre was opened in Khayelitsha, Cape Town amid great fanfare. That moment had historical significance not only to the people of Khayelitsha, but to the wider African continent as it opened a tap for a movement that has already swept through several African nations.

Kenya, Namibia, Mali and South Africa have all benefited from state of the art facilities that not only cater for football but address several unique challenges facing each community. On the eve of yet another milestone, when the Lesotho Football for Hope Centre opens in Maseru on Saturday, FIFA’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Federico Addiechi spoke to about the road already travelled.

“This has been an exciting journey for all of us who have been involved in this process,” he said. “We are happy with the achievements so far and I think we have seen some fantastic results from this initiative. This has empowered young people from different backgrounds not only by playing football, but also by using these facilities to educate them about lifestyle choices. This, in turn, impacts families and communities at large.

”We have always believed that hosting the first FIFA World Cup in Africa was about far more than organising a football tournament and we made a firm commitment that the 2010 World Cup would not only be about South Africa, but would leave a tangible social legacy for the African continent and its people.”

The Football for Hope ‘20 Centres for 2010’ project was launched in 2007, with the goal of building 20 centres in several countries across Africa. The existing centres are based in Khayelitsha (Cape Town, South Africa), Katutura (Windhoek, Namibia), Mathare (Nairobi, Kenya) and Baguineda (Bamako, Mali).

Community involvement and lessons learned
“The campaign has yielded the desired results,” said Addiechi. “One of the things that makes me proud is the fact that we have seen communities taking ownership of these centres – people understand that they are there to benefit their communities. The people in the communities have taken the initiative.

“There has been tremendous change in these communities. In places where there was violence and crime, we see peaceful, inclusive spaces where education and public health take central stage. In more than one way, it is apparent that these centres have brought a new sense of pride and positive social change.”

The first centre, launched in Khayelitsha, has provided many lessons for Federico and his team. It was an eye-opener in many respects, particularly in terms of the operational factors entailed in making the centres a success.

“Khayelitsha has been a good example to us,” said Addiechi. “When we started, we were not sure how some of our ideas will turn out when put into practice. In more than one way, we have used Khayelitsha as a template for future centres. However, it is worth noting that each and every country is different, and we have had to grapple with different challenges which we ultimately overcame.”

The fifth Football for Hope Centre will be opened in Lesotho tomorrow. Ten more centres are at various construction stages around the continent and will be opened soon, according to Addiechi. “Our hope and pledge is that many years from now people will still be benefitting from the Football for Hope Centres,” he said. “The future looks bright.”