MASERU — The fifth Football for Hope Centre in Africa was officially opened at Old Europa on Saturday marking a new era for football in Lesotho.
The centre is one of 20 projects that are being set up around Africa by Fifa as part of the legacy of the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa.
“Everyone will benefit from this centre but we are especially targeting the youth, orphans and vulnerable children,” Refiloe Maphallela, the centre’s manager, said.
“The communities around the centre are also allowed to come and use the ground for free.”
The plan is to use football based activities as an incentive and tool to providing engaging learning environments for young people.
Fifa’s head of corporate social responsibility, Federico Addiechi, said the project is meant to benefit the community in the long term.
“Our hope and pledge is that many years from now people will still be benefitting from the Football for Hope Centres,” he said.
“The future looks bright.”
The Football for Hope ‘20 Centres for 2010’ project was launched in 2007.
Five of the centres will be built in South Africa.
At the moment the existing centres are based in Cape Town, Windhoek, Nairobi and in Bamako in Mali.
Lesotho is the latest to join this group.
The project is run in partnership with Kick4Life, a UK-registered charity which uses football as a tool for promoting health education and awareness in the developing world.
It is hoped that the fruits of this legacy project will be enjoyed by many within the communities in which the centres are situated.
The evidence given by existing centres offers hope for Lesotho.
Since their introduction not only have the centres impacted on the lives of ordinary people in disadvantaged communities but they also inspired a positive change in the lives of many youths who attend the Football for Hope Centres on a daily basis.
The hope is that the M2 million Old Europa centre, which will be used for small-sided matches, will do the same for Lesotho.
The centre has an artificial turf, floodlights, a fence and an adjacent office.
The construction of the ground and offices was completed in May.
Friday’s inauguration ceremony was graced by former South Africa and Lesotho soccer captains, Lucas Radebe and Lehlohonolo Seema.
The centre has already been a hub of activity for football loving youths in Maseru, with masses descending on the one of a kind facility throughout the winter holidays and spring days.