World Cup–not just a soccer game

Army rallies at World Cup to offer anti-trafficking messages.

Soccer balls and vuvuzelas are imprinted with the Salvation Army’s message.

While multitudes of sports enthusiasts enjoy the World Cup soccer playoffs, The Salvation Army in South Africa is distributing contact information against human trafficking and providing safe venues for children during the games.

Since South Africa is a hot spot for violent crimes—including kidnapping, assault and trafficking—volunteers are handing out “red cards,” containing anti-trafficking messages, to individuals jamming the streets of the cities hosting the competition.

Along with the red cards, water bottles, footballs (soccer balls) and vuvuzelas—plastic trumpets commonly seen at soccer matches in South Africa—advertise a toll-free hotline not only for trafficking victims, but also for concerned community members and anyone who might have a tip about trafficking in their neighborhood.

The children of South Africa are among the most vulnerable to human trafficking. Because of this, The Salvation Army is also involved in a prevention program that hosts free soccer clinics and kids’ clubs across the country for safe and fun events in celebration of the international sports event. Plans are to involve 10,000 children, with the hope that this outreach will serve as a catalyst for many of the participants to become regular attendees at ongoing kids’ programs.

“These children [in the kids’ clubs and soccer clinics] will be taken care of by our highly-trained volunteers who will take the opportunity to educate them on human trafficking and HIV/Aids,” Captain Patti Niemand, member of the territory’s anti-human-trafficking task team, said.

Five international mission teams are in South Africa to assist: four from Australia and one from the U.S. Two South African mission teams and various officers and cadets are focusing on teaching at the camps and clubs while also taking part in street evangelism. All are centered on grabbing the ministry opportunity afforded by the World Cup.

Report by Ruth Suylvestre at

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