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UN ENVOY FOR SPORT ATTENDS FOOTBALL FESTIVAL IN SOUTH AFRICA AHEAD OF WORLD CUP FINAL

By UN

The United Nations envoy on sport today travelled back to South Africa for the various activities lined up during the last week of the World Cup, including the Football for Hope festival in the township of Alexandra in Johannesburg.

Wilfried Lemke, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, will visit several grassroots projects supported by the UN.

On Saturday, he will attend a roundtable discussion organized by the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), which will primarily focus on maintaining the momentum of the successful projects and programmes in South Africa after the international attention generated by the World Cup, while working to recreate these successes in Brazil in 2014.

Activities in the Football for Hope festival will include a week-long football tournament, various workshops and inter-cultural activities. In the tournament, 32 mixed teams of boys and girls aged between 15 and 18 from disadvantaged communities around the world are competing without any referees. Any disagreements on the pitch are resolved through dialogue.

The boys and girls are members of organisations which tackle social issues using football – from homelessness in the United Kingdom and landmines in Cambodia, to HIV/AIDS education in South Africa, integration of refugees in Australia, violence amid the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, environmental pollution in the slums of Kenya and gang culture in Ecuador.

Football for Hope is the joint initiative of the world football governing body, FIFA, and streetfootballworld that represents football's commitment to social development. Recognising the power of sport, and football in particular, to be a powerful tool to promote ideals of development and peace, Football for Hope aims to assist the UN in achieving the eight social development and poverty eradication targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

Mr. Lemke reflected on this success, not just of Football for Hope, but of the entire 2010 World Cup, which has proven to be a unique catalyst for development through sport on the African continent.

“There is no doubt that this World Cup has been a tremendous success for South Africa and for the continent as a whole. It has also opened the floodgates for the Sport for Development and Peace Movement, and I am incredibly proud of the work that has been done by so many actors – in particular UN entities – to capitalize on this opportunity to trigger positive social change through sport,” said Mr. Lemke.

“The incredible momentum that the movement has gained through the tournament will carry throughout the next four years, and hopefully be amplified even further in Brazil in 2014,” he added.

Mr. Lemke will also visit a Soccer for Hope centre, an initiative of the German development agency GTZ as part of its Youth Development through Football project, by which it provides education, life skills, sport opportunities, and support for over 10,000 children in Africa.

He will also tour the Nike Centre in Soweto, a modern training centre where 1,200 teams and 15,000 footballers play each year and can benefit from life skills coaching as well as HIV/AIDS education and testing.

Accra / Ghana/ Africa / Modernghana.com