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FIFA Uses Soccer To Teach African Youth About HIV/AIDS, Other Issues

Ahead of next year’s World Cup of soccer tournament, FIFA on Saturday in Khayelitsha, South Africa, opened the first of an anticipated 20 centers in Africa aimed at educating the youth about HIV/AIDS and other social issues through the sport, the Associated Press reports (Jacobson, 12/5).

“Six of the centres will be in South Africa, the host of next year’s World Cup, the rest across the continent,” Reuters writes, adding, “In Mali and Ghana, they will focus on anti-discrimination, in Rwanda on the building of peace after a devastating genocide in 1994, in Kenya on the environment and health, and in Namibia on social integration.”

The Khayelitsha center will be run by an organization called Grassroot Soccer, which “trains coaches, many of them also young people, and in addition to combating AIDS, tries to improve underprivileged children’s self-confidence and give them access to resources that will help them get out of the slums,” Reuters writes (Flak, 12/5).

“We have said for years there shall be a legacy in Africa when we bring FIFA’s World Cup to Africa,” FIFA president Joseph Blatter said during the opening of the center Saturday. “It’s the first time what we said – football for hope – is a reality,” he said, Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C reports. According to the news service, in the township of Khayelitsha, “most residents have lost someone close to them to HIV/AIDS, a disease that afflicts one in nine or 5.7 million South Africans.” The article describes how lessons about HIV prevention are integrated into soccer drills and reports that voluntary HIV testing is also available at the center (Byrne, 12/6).