This week saw the return of the UEFA Champions League in Europe, but as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi and Wayne Rooney take to the continental stage once more, the kick-off of another European competition approaches in Brussels.
On 21 September 2011, an annual charity tournament run by Oranje in Brussels (OIB), a Dutch association centred on sport, networking and dialogue, will take place in the Belgian capital's Parc Leopold public park. The event will involve some twenty amateur sides, divided along national lines and made up of employees of the European Union institutions, in the main. These teams usually contest the Euroleague, an amateur championship that was originally an initiative of the European Parliament and is now recognised by UEFA.
The reputation of the charity tournament is already firmly established. Year on year, an increasing number of participants, spectators and sponsors have attended this festival of European football. The 2010 event was no exception to the rule, as fans came out in large numbers to support the raising of funds for World Coaches, a development project backed by former Netherlands internationals Aron Winter, Pierre van Hooijdonk and Ruud Krol.
Centre soon to open in Ghana
This year, the proceeds from the competition will go to the non-governmental organisation Play Soccer. Supported by FIFA's Football for Hope initiative since 2007, it focuses mainly on education, in all areas of football. Specifically, Play Soccer's programmes encourage the development of children between the ages of five and 14 through sport. To this end, the organisation concentrates on three areas - teaching the rules of the game and football skills, providing educational support and health education, and advocating positive values and social skills.
Play Soccer Ghana was selected to run one of the 20 Football for Hope centres in Africa. Located in Cape Coast in southern Ghana, the building is set to open its doors in November 2011. It will offer basic football coaching to young people of both sexes, and enable homeless children to gain access to study opportunities and health facilities. The centre hopes to touch the lives of over 1,200 children and teenagers every week.
Who knows, maybe the next Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi or Wayne Rooney is hiding among them!