Soita Shitanda, Kenyan Minister for Housing and UN-HABITAT Executive Director Joan Clos presented Nairobi's slum youth with fifty footballs donated by Hyundai to promote sports development in urban areas.
Joan Clos and Soita Shitanda Kenyan Minister for Housing
The event, held in the lead up to UN-HABITAT's 23rd session of the Governing Council, highlights the need for sports facilities in urban plans. The balls were gifted to the grassroots clubs by Hyundai, as part of the Dream Balls for Hope and Development Initiative.
The car manufacturer has donated one million footballs to be distributed to budding young sportsmen around the world. Some of the first 70,000 of these were donated to Kenya and thousands more will reach African children in slums over the next few months.
Four football teams from Nairobi's Mathare and Kibera slums competed in a demonstration match before receiving the footballs for their teams. They were delighted that both the Minister and the senior UN official demonstrated their own skills by shooting penalty goals at the young goalies.
But despite the day's festivities, there was a serious message to be learnt. "Sport is not only about fun but also teaches us important lessons about team work," said Dr. Clos. "You have to pass the ball sometimes if you want to score a goal".
He continued: "I urge the Government of Kenya to make room in their urban development plans for green areas and sports facilities."
The Minister of Housing and the representative of the Prime Minister's Office, Beatrice Gambo, both pledged their support to the project. "This is a great initiative but we must now insure that we look to supply spaces for young people to play and train as well as the equipment to do so," said Minister Shitanda. Ms. Gambo emphasised the need for increased participation of young women in games such as football.
Hyundai's Deputy General Manager who flew in from Cairo for the occasion mentioned that footballs even in a small way can make the dreams of the young come true.
UN-HABITAT's Governing Council session, will discuss the agency's policy and vision for the coming years. The theme is Sustainable Urban Development through Expanding Equitable Access to Land, Housing, Basic Services and Infrastructure.