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WhizzKids United Represents South Africa at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

Published by Stefan Kunze
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Team WhizzKids United at the Football for Hope Festival in Rio de Janeiro
Team WhizzKids United at the Football for Hope Festival in Rio de Janeiro

Where did you follow the excitement of The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil this month? Six lucky kids from Edendale had the chance to travel to Rio de Janeiro to experience it LIVE at the 2014 Football for Hope Festival!

WhizzKids United has been a part of FIFA’s Football for Hope movement for many years and 2014 has been an eventful year in our journey together. Not only did the Edendale Football for Hope Centre open (see June’s newsletter for more), but the delegation from WhizzKids United was invited by FIFA to travel to Brazil to participate in the Football for Hope Festival.

Taking place in Caju- a community in the northern part of Rio de Janeiro’s north- the Festival is an official part of the FIFA World CupTM. During each festival, 32 organisations from across the world gather with one common factor: all of them use football as a means of encouraging positive social development in their respective communities and countries.

WhizzKids United CEO- Marcus, Country Director- Stefan and Life Skills Coach- Sli went together with six kids from Edendale- Fisani, Nokulunga, Sanelisiwe, Sandry, Sphesihle and Xolani – to represent our organisation and community; and because South Africa’s national team, “Bafana Bafana” failed to qualify for this World Cup, we ALSO represented the whole of South Africa, as the only participating team from The Rainbow Nation.

The days in Brazil were long and jam-packed with often fun and challenging activities, encouraging teams to mingle with members from other delegation. It was all a good showcase of how football can overcome any difference, be it gender, colour, religion or language.

The first half of the Festival focused on the cross-cultural exchange, giving organisations an opportunity to learn from each other and to share best practices and experiences.  The second half was dedicated to a youth football tournament, following FIFA’s Football3 methodology, which promotes Fair Play and respectful interaction on and off the pitch.

Team WhizzKids United put in an outstanding performance and adopted the Football3 concept very quickly. Our players were repeatedly praised for the way they promoted the idea of Fair Play throughout the entire Festival. This is probably one of the highest accomplishments a team could achieve at the festival. Our good football performance and promotion of fair play saw out team finish fourth out of eight after winning three matches, losing three matches and drawing one.

The Football for Hope Festival was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all the participants and as if meeting and interacting with all the other teams wasn’t rewarding enough, FIFA threw in a few more bonuses by giving teams a chance to watch the World Cup Quarterfinal match between France and Germany live at Rio’s world famous Maracanã stadium and organising a trip to the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain which offered breath-taking views of the bay of Rio de Janeiro.

Having spent eleven days in Brazil, the kids returned to South Africa with a bag full of priceless memories and ideas- and major jetlag. They were each selected for their leadership potential and it’s now up to them to put what they’ve learned in Brazil to good use in and around their community.

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