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Footballers' fines helping orphans near WCup base

sports Updated: Jun 16, 2010 11:10 IST

When Tottenham players are tardy for training or have nights out which contravene club rules, eight South African orphans celebrate. Were it not for the Premier League players being fined, the small group of children from families ravaged by AIDS and violence - or both - would likely not be living in a $90,000 bungalow in suburban Rustenburg.

"When you come here and see this, it's fantastic that the lads were late," England defender Michael Dawson said after visiting the house funded by his Spurs teammates on Tuesday for the first time. "If the players come down and see this, they won't mind getting fined."

Tottenham Hotspur House, which opened in 2008, is one of the 10, each of which is home to eight children and a foster parent on a well-kept street off the main highway in Rustenburg, minutes from the city's World Cup stadium and England's base for the tournament.

England's Football Association has funded another of the properties. There's almost nothing to distinguish these houses in the SOS Children's Village from those in the neighboring streets. There's no signs. No stigma for the orphans.

"I'm surprised by it. I think it looks really good," said Matthew Upson, who joined his England teammate Dawson on the trip. "It's probably as normal a residential-street style environment that you can have for kids. You can play football in the street, ride your bike. It looks very pleasant."

There was one child Dawson particularly wanted to meet: 12-year-old Aubrey, the boy whom he sponsors but had never seen in person. They quickly bonded over a love of football, heading the ball to each other on the field opposite Aubrey's house.