The 2010 World Cup was widely hailed as Africa's World Cup, and rightly so. After all, this is the continent's first ever hosting of the event, and many optimitistically looked forward to the benefits, both economic and social, the event would bring to Africa. Sadly, however, a great chance was missed when the decision was made to use the Jabulani ball rather than a ball made in Africa.

Africa has the skills to stitch footballs for the tournament and for all its attached merchandising. With high levels of unemployment across Africa, the production of World Cup footballs on the continent would have given a huge economic boost to some of the poorest nations on earth. A great opportunity has been missed for the World Cup to kick-start industry and deliver a lasting economic legacy to the World.

Furthermore, the Jabulani has had no positive impact on the people of South Africa, not least because it’s prohibitively expensive for the overwhelming majority in the country. In fact, replicas of the World Cup football are currently retailing in South Africa for 249 Rand – more than the average South African weekly wage. The use of cheap labour in Pakistan to produce balls isn’t translating into an affordable product which can be afforded by the average person living in South Africa.

Currently, the majority of young footballers in South African villages and townships have no choice but to play with rudimentary, homemade footballs, typically fabricated with plastic bags and string. With multimillionaire footballers set to use the best equipment in shiny new stadiums, it seems a shame that it won’t be a realistic aspiration for many children in the country even to play with a proper ball while the tournament is being played. Alive & Kicking is proud to be able to help reverse this inequity.

Alive & Kicking will stitch more than 60,000 leather footballs in 2010, and over half of them will be distributed free to underprivileged children’s projects across sub-Saharan Africa. UK residents can donate quality leather footballs to children in South Africa for just £12.50 at http://www.aliveandkicking.org.uk.That’s just 140 Rand as opposed to the 249 Rand, the price of the replica World Cup ball.

Hopefully, it's not too late to ensure this African World Cup truly does benefit Africans. A&K have just reached their target of stitching 300,000 balls (in Africa, by Africans, for Africans) by the end of the World Cup. With more efforts like this, we can help to make certain the 2010 World Cup really is Africa’s World Cup.

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