Festival Part Of Social Engagement
By Krystina Lucido
Football For Hope Festival kicks off right at the end of the World Cup, July 4-10, bringing together youth from townships across South Africa as well as around the world. The event features food vendors, a main pitch with a large screen TV and entertainment tower, a secondary pitch, a grand parade entrance, a VIP area with floor-to-ceiling windows -- right in the middle of one of the oldest, most historic townships in South Africa.
Driving through Alexandra, there are rocks holding down roofs to homes, street peddlers and clothes drying on lines up and down the tightly-packed streets. Kids parked on the median watching cars pass and dribbling soccer balls in the streets. Turn right and the process has begun on the construction of the event site.
Initially it doesn't seem good that this event has come to take over a depressed area and displace families. However, Seth Naicker, operations coordinator for the event, informs us these people were already being moved by the local government to get them into better housing. The residents agreed and are not only excited for the event's arrival, but have taken an active part in the planning, taking pride in the event as their own.
When the event is complete, the pitch will be moved to a centre as part of FIFA's official campaign of 20 Centres by 2010. FIFA's corporate social responsibility arm, in partnership with streetfootballworld, is putting on the festival as part of the overall movement of promoting social development through football. Health promotion, peace building, children's rights and education, antidiscrimination, and social integration are some of the things streetfootballworld hopes people take away from the event.
Games are played in three halves. First, the kids decide on the rules. There are no referees so the players must monitor themselves, so they agree upon rules for the game before they start which presents a challenge since they are from different parts of the country with different languages and different ways of doing things, so collaboration is key.
The second half is the game itself where the agreed-upon rules are implemented. And the third half is where the players elect a winner based not only on goals but on sportsmanship and team effort.
The event is very much centered on social development through football and really getting into the local community and engaging them in development. Naicker takes pride in the fact that he can tell his children he "wasn't just feeling it, I was burning the fire."
Naicker and his team are not just planning the event but have been instrumental in being in the space, engaging the community and working with the people in their own environment.
Posted June 18, 2010