Legacy project to unite Africa through football

Monday, May 25, 2009

Johannesburg - In line with FIFA's objectives of fair play and the fight against racism, the 2010 Local Organising Committee (LOC) has partnered with the African Diaspora Forum (AFD) in a legacy project to unite Africa.

The project, dubbed the "Youth African Soccer Cup", will be used to fight xenophobia while strengthening unity among African children.

The tournaments, which will kick off tomorrow and end before the Confederations Cup, will see hundreds of children in Gauteng taking part in soccer tournaments aimed at promoting the Confederations Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Speaking at the launch on Monday, LOC's acting head of the 2010 Legacy Projects, Greg Friedericks said the project will be piloted in 20 schools around Gauteng but will later be rolled out to accommodate more schools throughout the country.

Each of the 20 schools will adopt one African country participating in the world cup by actively learning everything about that country ranging from the language, the national anthem and its culture.

At least seven high schools and 13 primary schools have been selected to take part in the initiative. The schools must also portray the diversity of the African continent.

The children have been carefully selected and most of them have their origins in countries outside South Africa.

While most of them are attending school in South Africa, some hold dual citizenship.

"Through this initiative, we want to use these children to send out a message that this is not only a South African world cup, but Africa's opportunity.

"We are hoping the children will be able to send a message that says all are welcome to South Africa," Mr Friedericks told BuaNews.

Each school will prepare its "national" team to be dressed in colours of the country of choice. The players will further carry the countries' flags and sing the national anthems before each game is played.

ADF spokesman Amin Sheikh said following the xenophobic attacks that broke out in Alexandra last year, it was important to carry a message of reconciliation between all those who live in South Africa.

"In selecting the children, we have made sure that each country is represented to ensure a process of integration takes place," Mr Sheik said.

The ADF is a non profit organisation representing African migrant communities living in South Africa.

Currently, 22 African countries are represented on the ADF: Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.