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Non-profit organisation Play Soccer South Africa offers a year-round holistic programme that includes much more than just soccer skills training. Now in partnership with Samsung Electronics, it is expanding its reach to include more children in the programme that uses the power and passion of soccer and its universal and inclusive language and style to educate, empower and nurture South African children between the ages of five and 14.

Play Soccer South Africa teaches important health, physical, social and development life-skills to children through the low-cost, fun and universal appeal of soccer. The programme is founded on being recreational, gender inclusive, community-based and accessible and open to all. It is an implementing partner of FIFA’s Football for Hope movement, and also has a strong partnership with Unicef in South Africa and other African countries.

A 48-week curriculum brings children from all over Gauteng to one of seven sites weekly to learn about topics ranging from what they can do to promote their own well-being, to life philosophies and lessons they might not receive at home or school such as the concept of teamwork, fair play, leadership, equality and how to resolve conflict peacefully among their families and peers.

“South Africans, and in particular South African children, associate a lot of positive emotion and pride with the game of soccer,” programme director Sibulele Sibaca says. “We are able to focus this energy on important social and health-related issues which they then willingly learn about through their favourite sporting pastime.

“Not only do these children then have the opportunity to be part of a positive learning experience, make new friends and develop an understanding of and a niche for themselves, but we are inadvertently encouraging participation and practice in soccer, which we anticipate will benefit our nation in the form of future soccer heroes and supporters.”

South Africa certainly enjoys a fine sporting tradition, particularly in soccer, which would explain why global electronics company Samsung has forged a partnership with Play Soccer South Africa through the Samsung NextHero campaign. This campaign aims to develop soccer at a grassroots level in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt.

Soccer greats such as Shaun Bartlett and Itumeleng Khune have stated regularly in the media that we are privileged in South Africa to have an abundance of talent, but without the necessary training on an initial level and good management in place, we will not maintain a powerful national team.

Through the Samsung NextHero campaign, Play Soccer South Africa is hoping to receive R1-million, which will be raised through the sale of the Samsung J700 phone.

For each phone sold, Samsung will donate a portion of the sale to Play Soccer South Africa, which in turn will be used to build two campaign-branded sites, thus enabling them to expand into other disadvantaged areas of South Africa and enrol a further 1300 children in 2009.

For more information about the Samsung NextHero campaign, go to www.samsung.co.za or visit a Samsung retailer near you.

WHAT IS SAMSUNG NEXTHERO Samsung NextHero is a corporate social responsibility initiative to grow soccer talent throughout Africa in Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya and South Africa.

In South Africa Samsung has partnered with Play Soccer South Africa, a non-profit organisation who aims to educate and empower disadvantaged youth through the passion and unity of soccer.

In keeping with soccer spirit and to encourage involvement in the NextHero campaign, Samsung is mobilising South Africans through the purchase of the J700 phone. The Samsung J700 is available throughout South Africa and, with each handset sold, Samsung will donate a portion of the sale to Play Soccer South Africa.

Samsung has established an in-store competition where J700 buyers stand the chance to win a trip to London to see Samsung’s greatest soccer hero, Didier Drogba, play for Chelsea against archrivals Arsenal on November 30, 2008.

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