The final whistle of the FIFA 2010 World Cup has blown, but not for South Africa’s youth. As part of FIFA’s Ticket Fund legacy, “the beautiful game” plays on in the streets, with the launch of the annual Kia Street Soccer league programme in Alexandria, Johannesburg and in four other major cities across the country.

On 15 April, Sporting Chance, in association with title sponsor KIA Motors will roll out the national neighbourhood street soccer programme that will reach 4500 boys and girls under the age of 13, empowering and exposing them to have a brighter future through the valuable lessons of sport.

Conceptualised and co-ordinated by youth sports development agency Sporting Chance, the Kia Street Soccer programme, supported by FIFA and SAFA, teaches life skills through the game of soccer, to kids who need it most, where they need it most. Their communities in the 30 regions are rife with poverty and crime, lacking in adequate facilities or stimulating after-school and weekend activities.

“The street is the perfect venue for kids to come together and do something positive and healthy,” says Brad Bing, Managing Director of Sporting Chance. “Many of them have no place to go where they can socialize in a safe and healthy environment. Why not turn the streets we have for too long perceived as being dangerous, into a stage where life lessons can be taught, friendships forged and communities entertained?”

Kia Street Soccer will hit neighbourhood streets with round robin matches in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and Durban. Twenty teams of six players each are entered into each regional league. Round robin matches will be played for eight weeks, with weekly sessions of four matches, followed by a week of regional finals and ultimately, the Provincial Festival Finale, which takes place towards the end of June.

Being healthy and keeping active are additional critical life skills taught by the programme and felt to be necessary due to the current absence of these subjects in the national schools’ curriculum. For the first phase of the programme a Health Education Road Show visited all the participating communities leading up to the second phase – the start of the league.

In addition to activities designed to show and share the importance of physical activity, nutrition, personal hygiene and TB awareness, the sessions also covered key issues of sports etiquette, conflict resolution, and environmental awareness, encouraging learners to take pride in their environment and recycle, not litter.

It isn’t only the kids who will benefit from this programme. Local coaches and coordinators will be selected from each community and will receive training in coaching and crucial life skills. In addition, a team of 800 are employed on a contractual basis throughout the duration of the Kia Street Soccer programme.

“The 2010 Soccer World Cup must be more than a pleasant memory for South Africans,” said Kia Motors South Africa CEO Ray Levin. “It must leave a lasting legacy of promise, showing all South Africans that dreams can come true, even for the most humble. This is the time to grab the excitement generated by Bafana Bafana and carry it through to grass roots level.”