Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Zakumi celebrates his birthday with Grassroot Soccer in Soweto!

(Story sourced from

Today, on South African Youth Day, Zakumi celebrates his 16th birthday. The Official Mascot of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ marked the occasion with a party with some South African boys and girls in Soweto, Johannesburg. Cake, candles, songs and, of course, football – nothing was missing on Zakumi’s special day. A local football star, Daine Klate, even came along to offer his congratulations and join in the game of football.
The kids are participating in a one-week holiday Skillz programme organised by Grassroot Soccer, which uses soccer to teach the kids important life skills and deliver an HIV prevention curriculum. Grassroot Soccer is playing its part in implementing the Football for Hope programme as the host of the Khayelitsha Football for Hope Centre in Cape Town.
In the morning session, where children learnt about the transmission of HIV, Zakumi surprised everyone by joining them at the Leresche Primary School. The school is situated in Soweto, right across the road from the Orlando Stadium, where the opening concert took place last Thursday. A little later, Daine Klate joined the birthday party. The Supersport United midfielder and former Bafana Bafana player congratulated Zakumi on his birthday and together they blew out candles and ate some cake with the kids.
Afterwards, the children started to play ‘Fair Play Football’, a game where fair play rules and every goal is celebrated frantically by both teams as well as the fans. As an additional birthday present, Zakumi learned on his special day that he had been voted ‘coolest mascot’ in a recent survey of African youth.
South Africa 2010’s Official Mascot was hugely privileged to receive this honour, but is even happier that hosting this year’s FIFA World Cup has been voted as the number one reason for this generation of South African youngsters to feel optimistic about their future. In the survey of South Africans between the ages of eight and 22 – an age group that makes up 50 per cent of the country’s population - the tournament was seen to represent happiness and the chance to elevate South Africa on the global stage.

A World Cup Match to Remember

The 100 youth participants in the Grassroot Soccer (RED) Skillz Holiday camp received a very special gift last night – the opportunity to attend a World Cup match in Cape Town’s brand new Green Point Stadium. Chaperoned by GRS Skillz coaches, staff, and volunteers from (RED), the participants sported matching green bandanas and piled in buses for the ride to the stadium. Local Hip-Hop/Rap artist HHP (who attended the camp opening Sunday) also attended and chose to sit with kids during this exciting match. The pouring rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of the kids, who were not only excited to see the game and blow their vuvuzelas, but were thrilled to sit with this local celebrity. For them, it must have been a night to remember.

To learn more about (RED) check out

Football Legends Help Open Soweto's Castrol Skillz Holiday Program

The 2010 Castrol Skillz Holiday Programme got off to a flying start on 14 June when international football hero, Marcel Desailly, and local football legend, Jomo Sono, launched the programme at Leresche Primary School in Soweto. Taking time out of their busy World Cup schedules were the likes of former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper, Andre Arendse; former Bafana Bafana, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates player, Pollen Ndlanyana; and ex Bafana player and sports presenter, Marks Maponyane. For Sono it was a particularly emotional day as he was returning to his former primary school for the event. During his address he shared some hilarious childhood memories and encouraged the youngsters participating in the Castrol Skillz Holiday Programme to seize the opportunity with both hands.

During the action packed event local and international media were clamoring to get a piece of the action especially when Desailly and Sono started participating in one of the Skillz Sessions.

Bill Myles, Grassroot Soccer's Chief Operating, was there to witness the strong outpouring of support for national programme which will see 45 camps taking place across South Africa, touching the lives of 4,500 children. Commenting on his experience he said. “It was wonderful to receive such great support from so many soccer greats. It’s very inspiring to see how many people believe in this programme and what it can achieve.”

After the formal proceedings the youngsters joined Castrol staff, the media and the football celebrities on the newly revamped football pitch. The youngsters welcomed the new comers with open arms and pretty soon the field was alive with excited shouts and exclamations. The vibe and energy during the whole event was amazing with people laughing and sharing moments together. After a long bout of media interviews, Jono Somo, was soon seen kicking for goal with some of the young participants bravely defending while Marcel Desailly sat quietly with a group of children, listening to one of the Grassroot Soccer coaches talk about HIV/Aids. Desailly seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself as his expression softened when a young boy in the group moved up to sit closer to him.

Polly Flinn, Castrol’s Global Vice President for Marketing, and her team didn’t waste any time getting thoroughly involved in one of the Skillz sessions. She was visibly humbled after the session finished.

“It was an honour to be present at the launch of a programme that is striving towards building a better South Africa,” she said.

In the next month during the World Cup, Castrol and Grassroot Soccer will be rolling out 45 holiday camps, across 7 provinces in South Africa. An estimated 4,500 young people will be touched by the programme. It’s time to make a difference!
Japanese Stars Entertain and Inspire at Football for Hope Center

Japanese singing sensation, Misia and legendary Japanese Footballer, Hidetoshi Nakata made a special visit to the Football for Hope Center on Tuesday. This amazing duo spent time with groups of ecstatic kids from Grassroot Soccer’s (RED) Holiday Skillz Program and Sony’s Siyakhona youth media program.

Misia, who is also an honorary UN Ambassador on Biodiversity and founder of the nonprofit organization Child AFRICA, encouraged the kids to keep up their work at the Center. She told them how her visits to Africa provide her with the inspiration to make music, which she proved by sharing a song with all in attendance.

Check out the video below to see it for yourself!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Let the games begin!  GRS Skillz Holiday Kick-off Event

With the World Cup in full swing, Grassroot Soccer opened its (RED) Skillz Holiday with a fun day of fair-play soccer and live music.  Representatives from (RED), Converse, and Bugaboo joined in the Skillz activities alongside 100 youth from Khayelitsha.  Local bands HHP and Black Jacks also came out to show their support and performed an impromptu acoustic set for the cheering crowd of kids. 

Sunday's events kicked off the week-long camp that highlights Grassroot Soccer's commitment to fight HIV and AIDS in Africa.  

Check out the video below to see how it all went down!