Young stars out to shine at Street Child World Cup

2010-03-16 00:00

SOUTH Africa lost 4-0 to India in the opening match of the first Street Child World Cup in Durban yesterday, but they “aren’t despairing”.

Hosted by Umthombo Street Children, and supported by Deloitte, the event will see teams of homeless children from around the world compete in matches, leading to the final on March 24.

The teams are made up of boys and girls between the ages of 14 and 16.

Before the match, Bulelwa Hewitt of Umthombo said South Africa’s Umthombo-Old Mutual Young Stars are “brilliant”. “I have to say, the team is looking amazing,” she said.

Tom Hewitt, the organisation’s CEO, said after the match that South Africa “put up a good fight and aren’t despairing”.

He described the Indian team as “quite a bit bigger and stronger” than their South African counterparts.

“It’s not the end of the world. They take on Ukraine next,” said Hewitt.

He also said the Ukraine team were closer in age and strength to the South African team.

The initiative will focus on campaigning for better treatment for street children. The organisers have promised to implement a process of training and support throughout and after the event, in the hope that the participants can become “mentors, advocates, and sources of inspiration for their peers”.

Bulelwa Hewitt said that despite initial reservations and language barriers, the different teams were getting along and communicating well.

The homeless children participating in the event will not be left to fend for themselves afterwards. According to Hewitt, international organisations have rallied to “support them in building secure, long-term futures”.

Organisers anticipate that most, if not all of the children will have places to live “during much of the preparation phase, and in the follow-up to the event”.

Big names, such as David Beckham and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, have voiced their approval of the Street Child World Cup.

“I know, from personal experience, just what power football can have to inspire and change young people’s lives, whatever their background or nationality. This is what the Deloitte Street Child World Cup is all about, and I give it my full support,” said Beckham.

“The Street Child World Cup demonstrates the tremendous potential of every single child, and especially street children, who are so often treated as less than human,” said Tutu.

“I am proud that the first ever Street Child World Cup will take place in South Africa.”

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