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Alternative Football Tournament Taking Place In Johannesburg During World Cup - Sports - Nairaland

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Alternative Football Tournament Taking Place In Johannesburg During World Cup by AmakaOne(f): 2:03pm On Jul 05, 2010
By Fisnik Abrashi (CP) – 19 hours ago

JOHANNESBURG — South African President Jacob Zuma officially opened a FIFA-sponsored football tournament Sunday that brings together 32 teams of youngsters from disadvantaged communities worldwide.

Dubbed "Football for Hope," the tournament is taking place in the heart of Johannesburg's township of Alexandra, a maze of low-laying shacks spread on gently rolling dun-coloured hills.

The tournament is an attempt to use and celebrate the power and popularity of football to enact social change by bringing together teams of boys and girls from all over the world, who are using the game to help their communities.

The participating teams received a rapturous welcome from the neighbourhood kids and adults, who filled the makeshift stands and moved like a wave to the sound of music. Some climbed nearby roofs to catch a glimpse of the mini-spectacle.

Local dance groups, singers and other artists helped create a sense of celebration that the deprived townships like this rarely see. Only in 2008, anti-foreigner riots that started in this sprawling neighbourhood left dozens killed, and displaced thousands.

Walking onto a makeshift field alongside FIFA president Sepp Blatter, Zuma told the roaring crowd of happy kids that they must remember that football is more than just a game.

"It teaches (us) important lessons, things that at times are not easy to accept," Zuma said. "To be happy when you win, but to be ready to accept defeat with a smile.

"This has been a wonderful tournament," Zuma said of the World Cup. "Now, topping it up is 'Football for Hope.'"

Ubiquitous vuvuzela's provided the backdrop, just like in the big game.

The five-a-side tournament pitting young boys and girls from the Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas, Oceania and the Middle East is played without referees.

It consists of teams who back home use the sport to help those who are disadvantaged: from mine victims in Cambodia, those raising HIV/AIDS awareness in South Africa and Kenya to others who combat drugs and discrimination from Latin American to British streets.

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