Children from the Laureus-supported Sport for All project enjoyed the thrill of a lifetime when German football legend and Laureus World Sports Academy member Franz Beckenbauer took them to visit the German World Cup team camp just four days before their opening match against Australia.
Beckenbauer was joined on the visit by Laureus Chairman Edwin Moses and they were all greeted at the Velmore Grand Hotel in Pretoria by renowned goalscorer Oliver Bierhoff, now a German FA official, and leading midfield player Bastian Schweinsteiger.
The youngsters from the Laureus-supported ‘Sport for All’ project in Katlehong, Gauteng had the chance to sit down and talk to Beckenbauer and Bierhoff about the World Cup and football and the importance of sport in their lives.
At the end of the visit, German head coach Joachim Löw joined Franz Beckenbauer and Edwin Moses, and each of the children was presented with a German football jersey.
Beckenbauer, known as Der Kaiser for the imperious way he played his football, appeared 103 times for the national team and played in three World Cups. He was captain when the then West German team won in 1974, and he repeated the feat as manager in 1990. He said: “The kids of Sport for All must today realise what an opportunity they have had to be the only children visitors at the hotel of the German team. I hope they will remember this all their lives.”
Double Olympic gold medal winner Edwin Moses, who has also taken children from Laureus projects to meet the United States and the England World Cup teams, said: “Soccer isn’t really my sport but I’m getting to be quite a World Cup expert now. What has impressed me most is the willingness and the enthusiasm with which everyone connected with these teams wants to meet and talk with the children. Everyone talks about the legacy of the stadia and the infrastructure which the World Cup will leave in South Africa, but for me just as important is the human element. Today is what it is all about. Giving the kids this privilege is awe-inspiring. Thank you.”
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 taken care of 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 Sport For Good Foundation has contributed funding for orphans and vulnerable children to attend sports coaching with Sport for All, in poor and underdeveloped township areas. Sport for All is currently based in five locations around the country. 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.
The Laureus World Sports Academy, a unique collection of 46 of the greatest living sports legends, who volunteer their services as global ambassadors for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which was set up to promote the use of sport as a tool for social change.
The Laureus Foundation addresses social challenges through a worldwide programme of sports related community development initiatives. Since its inception Laureus has raised more than €35 million for projects which have helped to improve the lives of over one million young people.