As part of its 2010 World Cup initiative, FIFA promised to develop disadvantaged communities throughout Africa with their Football for Hope initiative. The first one is situated in the Harare area of Khayelitsha, and offered football as a diversion from drugs and crime.
FIFA launched the Football for Hope initiative in 2005 to help improve the lives and prospects of young people around the world by funding, equipping and offering training to organisations. Khayelitsha was the first of 20 centres that were built.
Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced on 8 December 2009 that FIFA aimed to build 20 Football for Hope centres across the continent, with the Khayelitsha centre being the first. Grassroots Soccer was appointed to organise the Football for Hope programmes. Grassroots teaches young people life skills and they use football as a tool to educate young people.
“These Football for Hope centres will provide a platform for organisations that use the game to address social issues such as children’s rights and education, HIV and AIDS and the environment and will leave a legacy for Africa that will last long after the final whistle of the 2010 FIFA World Cup,’’ said Blatter.
But now, almost seven years later, Khayelitsha soccer clubs say Football for Hope failed them and the clubs have formed their own association to coordinate funding and transport to play away games.
Coach for soccer team Real Future, Khayalethu Qanda said that after the Football for Hope launch they formed soccer clubs in the belief the players’ talent would be exposed and supported. But his hopes were in vain as the Football for Hope centre provided no support, and he has had to use his own money to pay for the team to attend matches and for other logistics.
“Sometimes we play in Mitchell’s Plain and I had to pay for the travel, but mostly we walk to the field or use the train,” says Qanda, and as a result members of the u-12 team have twice been robbed while walking to a match.
The chairperson of Khayelitsha Business Forum, Luthando Adonis, said the introduction of Football for Hope was to assist those clubs by all means necessary, at the time of the World Cup and after. “The clubs should be utilising the fields and having access to everything the youth of Khayelitsha need, but I don’t think they still do so”, said Adonis.
Adonis said he was the one who identified the plot that Football for Hope occupies. “When I identified the area that Football for Hope should occupy, I wanted them and the Kwamfundo soccer field to complement each other,” he said.
Community facilitator for Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU) – a urban renewal initiative between international funders and the City of Cape Town – Thamsanqa Nkwenkwezi, said that when it was apparent by 2013 that Football for Hope offered no support to local teams, they formed the Monwabisi Park Football Association to create a single forum through which teams could access support in the form of soccer kits and medals for tournament winners.
However, Harare-based Masango Club was not able to play in a single tournament or participate in the league this season due to financial difficulties. Masango u-14 coach, Nkosinathi Qwayi, said that neither the VPUU nor Football for Hope provide any assistance and he pays for all the team’s needs out of his own pocket, with some parents contributing to their children’s taxi fares to matches.
A World Cup legacy in ‘football language’
Football for Hope site co-ordinator, Tony Gubesa, said that the organisation is an adolescent health organisation, which means they focus on educating young people to change their behaviour as it affects health, especially around sex.
“To teach young people life skills, we use football language,” said Gubesa.
“The facilitation of coaching clinics with SAFA and the football club give the impression that we run sports activities, meanwhile that is not what we do,” said Gubesa.
He believes that confusion is caused by the fact that they work with the Local Football Association (LFA) in staging tournaments and with the help of the South African Football Association (SAFA), have sent some of the coaches to accredited training courses.
He adds that one of their staff members and an intern started the RV United Women’s Football Club.