Dozens of South African children screamed in delight as they watched the England World Cup team play a practice match against local team Platinum Stars in Moruleng, just five days before their opening Group C match against the United States.
Then the youngsters, from the ‘My Home’ project in Rustenburg and the Laureus-supported ‘Sport for All’ project in the Katlehong township in Gauteng, had the chance to meet England coach Fabio Capello and members of the England World Cup squad.
The children from both projects had been brought to the Moruleng Stadium for this very special day out by Olympic track and field legend Edwin Moses, the Chairman of the Laureus World Sport Academy, and they watched enthralled as England beat Platinum Stars 3-0 with goals from Jermain Defoe, Joe Cole and Wayne Rooney.
England head coach Fabio Capello said: “It was fantastic to share the day with the Laureus kids. It’s important for the children to know the value of life and the importance of mind and body.”
And David Beckham, who is acting as player liaison for Fabio Capello, said: “Children are important. They are our future. I’m sure they had a great time today meeting all the players. I have boys of my own and I loved seeing the smiles on all their faces.”
Edwin Moses said: “The children were excited, involved and thrilled to be here. In their young lives, this was probably one of the most significant things that has happened to them. They will go back to their schools and their friends and tell them all about it. This is a real concrete example of sport making a difference. It’s what Laureus is all about, world famous soccer stars happy to give their time in the middle of their most important championship to inspire young people.
One of the most significant challenges in South Africa today is the increasing population of orphans and vulnerable children. These children are more often than not from child-headed households or cared for by grandparents or terminally ill parents. It is estimated that there are in excess of 800,000 orphans in the country at present.
The Laureus-supported Sport For All project in Katlehong welcomes orphans and vulnerable children at sports coaching sessions. The children can play any sport they want to, including cricket, hockey, netball, soccer, rugby, volleyball, tennis or even various traditional games. Attending Sport For All coaching gives these children an outlet for their stress and escape from their daily troubles. It allows them to be just a ‘normal child’ for a few hours everyday. Sport For All currently has four other franchises in Palmridge, Ganyesa, Thabazimbi and Atteridgeville.