Anelisa Ndyedi (left) and Siyamtanda Ncula during KIA street soccer in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth on 20 June, 2012. The 2012 Kia Street Soccer Programme's provincial championships are about to kick off, and the provincial winners will participate in a historic first national championship final, on 14 September in Soweto. Photo: Iky's Photographic

Street soccer teams from communities around the country will each compete for the title of KIA Street Soccer provincial champion over the coming weeks. The winning teams will qualify for the competition’s ultimate clash – the National Festival Finale, which will determine the 2012 Kia Street Soccer champion of champions team.

This year, for the first time, provincial winners from each region competing in the Kia Street Soccer Programme will be flown to Johannesburg for the National Final, which will be held on Friday 14 September in Soweto.

Event organiser Brad Bing, of the youth sports development agency Sporting Chance, is calling on all the communities to get behind their local teams for the provincial finals and spur them on to the inaugural national final.

“It has long been our dream to hold a national championship final,” said Bing, Managing Director of Sporting Chance. “Bringing teams together from all the participating regions to play for one trophy, symbolising South Africa’s best, gives the Kia Street Soccer Programme a huge profile boost with greater national presence.

“Furthermore, it’s a thrilling opportunity for the youth who make it to the finals to experience camaraderie on a national level and the excitement of a national championship final, as well as to see more of their country. It will no doubt be a high point in their young lives – and we hope the first of many,” said Bing.

Five months ago, Sporting Chance, in association with title sponsor KIA and associate sponsors Foodzone, Dawn Wing, Mille and Supersport Let’s Play, rolled out the national neighbourhood street soccer programme to 6000 boys and girls under the age of 13 in communities in Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban and this year, for the first time, Welkom.

Already well established in the other provinces, the KIA Street Soccer programme is the largest of its kind and its great success last year propelled it into the Free State. With many rural communities keen to participate in the programme, the inclusion of the Free State is a big step towards making street soccer available to all South African youth, whether urban or rural-based.

In total, eight hundred teams of six players each have participated in regional leagues since May. Weekly round robin matches have been played leading up to the regional finals, which take place from 13 – 17 August, followed by the Provincial finals, to be held from 21 August – 5 September.

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 40 regions are hindered by poverty and crime, and are lacking in adequate and safe facilities as well as stimulating after-school and weekend activities.

“Soccer captivates young people everywhere, from the inner city to the platteland, and has so much to offer in the way of life lessons,” added Bing. “The streets in every region are their playgrounds and make the perfect venue for kids to come together and do something positive and healthy. Rural youth often suffer the most, and with the generous support we receive from our sponsors, we will spread the fun and excitement of Kia Street Soccer to many more rural areas.”

This is also the year that the journey of FIFA’s 2010 Legacy Trust in South Africa becomes operational. With the Trust now fully in place, it will move from envisioning to implementation, and will support a wide range of public initiatives in the areas of football development, education, health and humanitarian activity, using the game of soccer as a tool.

SAFA was given R40 million for football development projects, and a further R70 million for investment in a transportation fleet to support their teams.

“Our participation in the 2010 FIFA World Cup made all South Africans winners, and the long-term outlook for exciting, relevant programmes benefiting our future stars, has never been better, particularly in light of recent South African successes in the London 2012 Olympic Games,” says Sporting Chance’s Bing.

“It isn’t only the kids who will benefit from the Kia Street Soccer programme. Local coaches and co-ordinators were selected from each community and will receive training in coaching and crucial life skills. In addition, a team of 840 is employed on a contractual basis throughout the duration of the Kia Street Soccer programme.

A national project of this magnitude requires a solid team on the ground to run and implement it and we’re extremely grateful to be in the position where we can create employment opportunities for so many members of the communities where the programme takes place,” adds Bing.

“Promise of a better life through sport is the legacy of the 2010 Soccer World Cup, and it lives on in the hearts, minds and spirits of our most disadvantaged youth,” said Kia Motors South Africa CEO Ray Levin. “Through this beautiful game, they are realising that with hard work and clean living, dreams can come true. For the 6000 kids who compete in the Kia Street Soccer Programme, this is just the beginning!”

For more information, contact Bradlyn Stuurman at Sporting Chance on 021 683 7299, log onto www.sportingchance.co.za, or join facebook.com/sportingchance for regular updates.