Kobe Bryant Visits World-Class Football Training Facility in Soweto, South Africa

On his first visit to the African continent, five-time champion Kobe Bryant joined NIKE Inc., the world’s largest football company, in a visit to the Football Training Center located in the heart of Soweto, South Africa to help inspire future champions.

The recently completed center will offer 20,000 young footballers per year the opportunity to develop their talent while also having access to HIV/AIDS education through football life skills programming.

“While basketball is my chosen sport, I’ve been a football fan all my life. So to be in South Africa for the first time and see how Nike is utilizing sport to inspire youth and educate them around HIV/AIDS is amazing,” said Kobe Bryant. “It’s crystal clear that this center will help keep kids out of trouble, improve their game, as well as empower them with the life skills they need to live better and HIV free.”

The center is part of Nike’s commitment to the communities of South Africa, which dates back 15 years. It also follows Nike’s recent partnership with (RED) to leverage the power of sport to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa through the Lace Up, Save Lives campaign. When someone buys a pair of (NIKE)RED laces, Nike contributes money to support programs that offer education and medication on the ground in Africa and that harness the power of sport to engage youth around the world in the fight against AIDS.

In addition to his visit to the center, Bryant has displayed his personal dedication to fighting HIV/AIDS by sporting (NIKE)RED laces on the basketball court. The laces are the centerpiece of Nike’s Lace Up, Save Lives campaign. Conducted in partnership with (RED), the initiative offers individuals the opportunity to purchase (NIKE)RED laces, and in return Nike contributes 100 % of its profits to support programs that offer HIV/AIDS education and medication in Africa.

While in South Africa, Kobe also visited the Life Center, one of Johannesburg’s most iconic skyscrapers and the site of Nike’s ambitious, tournament installation. Reaching 30 stories or 138 meters into the sky, the building features an interactive LED screen almost half the size of a football pitch. Tying back to the Write the Future campaign, the Nike installation allows fans to submit personal messages to athletes—via Facebook.com/nikefootball.com, Twitter, Facebook, Mxit (South Africa) and QQ (China). Each night messages are selected and transformed into digital player animations that are projected on the screen for the entire city to see.

Pictured: Kobe Bryant joins Nike and football players at the Football Training Centre in Soweto, Johannesburg on the 27 June 2010. (Photo by Dominic Barnardt/Getty Images for Nike).