HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and football icon Zinedine Zidane, in his capacity as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), visited a sports community center in the municipality of Gugulethu in Cape Town, South Africa, on Saturday.

The Ikhaya Lemidadlo Sport for Development is a community center for sports activities and youth education in the municipality of Gugulethu, 14 km from Cape Town. The initiative, which was launched in 2009, resulted from a partnership between the Principality of Monaco, UNDP, the World Alliance of Cities against Poverty network and the City of Cape Town.

The Prince and Zidane were accompanied by Ms Helen Zille, Premier of the Western Cape, Daniel Plato, Mayor of Cape Town, and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development, Wilfried Lemke.

“To the people in this community, sport can be much more than a fun game – it can be a decisive educational tool and a stepping stone towards a brighter future,” said Lemke. “Not only does this new community center provide opportunities for sport, but it offers training in a number of leadership qualities that are needed for succeeding in life.”

The population of Gugulethu (80,000) is very young (60% under 25) and the area is particularly poor. The first beneficiaries are local children and young teenagers. Unemployed youth between the ages of 18 and 25 were identified and trained as sport coordinators. They in turn are training younger children. About 1,200 children participated in a variety of events including soccer, softball, athletics, and general recreational activities. The programme is expected to be replicated as a model in other cities across Africa.

“This center shows that sports facilitate the gathering, the dialogue and the integration of youth, said Zinédine Zidane. “Sport builds relationships, connects individuals to communities and strengthens body and mind. I am happy that so many young people of Gugulethu can benefit from these opportunities.”

“I also believe that sport is more than just physical activity,” added HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco in his address to the citizens of Gugulethu. “Sports offer many lessons that are important in life: how not to give up in the face of adversity, how to concentrate, how to listen and how to appreciate both victories and defeat. In this way, sport can contribute to the formation of a person and the development of relationships between people. This center, in addition to being a playground, is also, and above all, a place of learning about life.”

UNDP is the UN’s global network to help people meet their development needs and build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working as a trusted partner with Governments, civil society and the private sector to help them build their own solutions to global and national development challenges. Further information can be found at www.undp.org

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