Football for Hope in Mali


    22 December 2010

    Herekoura, literally translated, means “new happiness” in Bambara, the principle language of Mali, and this is how the locals felt about the recent opening of the Football for Hope centre in Baguineda – the fourth of 20 such centres being built across Africa as a legacy of the 2010 Fifa World Cup™.

    This is the third centre to be opened outside South Africa. The inaugural centre was opened in Khayelitsha township on the outskirts of Cape Town in December 2009 as part of the 20 Centres for 2010 campaign initiated ahead of the World Cup.

    This was followed by a second centre in Mathare in Nairobi in September, followed in the same month by a third centre in Katutura township, in the heart of Namibia’s capital of Windhoek.

    The programme aims to build 20 centres around Africa to help address some of the challenges faced by the continent, including education and public health.

    Four more centres are due be completed over the next three to four months in Rwanda, Ghana, Lesotho, and Mokopane in South Africa.

    The Baguineda centre, which cost some 109-million CFA francs, or €166 413, comprises an administrative section, a library, an IT room, a circular multi-purpose room, changing rooms and an artificial turf pitch measuring 40 by 20 metres.

    The centre is designed to turn playing sport into an essential means of promoting the values of education, solidarity, brotherhood and community spirit, and to strengthen the education, culture and tradition of Mali.

    “We have come to celebrate the birth of a baby which has brought us together and which has been developing in the womb since 2000,” said Souadou Diabate, president of the Mali Association for the Promotion of Youth and Women (AMPJF).

    The Mali Football for Hope centre has 45 “prefects” who are fully involved in the social and sporting development of the youngsters. The centre is also looking at adding economic training and placement of the youngsters to its activities to enable it to become self-sufficient when it comes to handling the socio-cultural realities of the local community.

    Speaking at the opening of the centre on 4 December, Fifa representative Corina Eggenberger said the inauguration “sees us moving on to the next stage of the mission which we are carrying out across Africa. Here in Mali, we are supporting increased access for all youngsters, girls and young women to education and public health care via the medium of football.”

    Sanata Diakite, a 15-year-old girl who plays in one of Baguineda’s eight women’s clubs, is convinced that playing football has improved the quality of the education of young women in the area.

    “The opening of the centre now means that we can hope for a better future,” Diakite said. “We’re more aware of the realities of daily life and the importance of our true role in society. Now we’re ready to face up to what life can throw at us.”