As the 2010 World Cup tour­na­ment opened Friday in South Africa, leaders of Northeastern’s Sport in Society center were preparing to travel to Johan­nes­burg later this month to work on edu­ca­tional ini­tia­tives that build on the event’s immense global popularity.

Meghan Mahoney, man­ager of oper­a­tions for Sport in Society, and Dave Czes­niuk, the director of oper­a­tions, will lead work­shops that focus on gender vio­lence pre­ven­tion and the con­nec­tions between sport, lead­er­ship and social change.

The World Cup is the per­fect occa­sion to com­mu­ni­cate our mes­sage on an inter­na­tional stage,” said Czes­niuk. “The work­shops offer lessons that defy bor­ders and languages.”

Sport in Society also was invited by FIFA (the French acronym for the Inter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Asso­ci­a­tion Foot­ball) to host a youth forum in con­junc­tion with its Foot­ball for Hope Festival.

The fes­tival, an offi­cial event of the World Cup, will bring together 32 teams of young people from dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties around the world for a cel­e­bra­tion of edu­ca­tion, cul­ture and foot­ball. The fes­tival will address social issues such as home­less­ness, HIV/​AIDS and refugee set­tle­ment. The forum is spon­sored through a part­ner­ship with the Man Up Cam­paign, a global anti-​​violence campaign.

Closer to home, Sport in Society also will par­tic­i­pate in World Cup Boston, which is using soccer and the pop­u­larity of the tour­na­ment to bring together diver­gent local com­mu­ni­ties and build stronger inter­cul­tural dialogue.

Sport in Society has been helping to infuse diver­sity training and con­flict res­o­lu­tion into many World Cup Boston projects, including edu­ca­tion events for soccer coaches from around the city and a World Cup Boston Ser­vice Learning Day.

World Cup Boston has given us an oppor­tu­nity to engage soccer coaches in our com­mu­nity and give them the tools to hold con­ver­sa­tions about diver­sity with their players,” said Mahoney.

World Cup Boston will host a mini-​​World Cup soccer tour­na­ment this month, during which Sport in Society will hold fur­ther training ses­sions for ath­letes and coaches.

The center is also working with the advo­cacy group Active Voice to pro­mote the doc­u­men­tary, “Have You Heard From Johan­nes­burg,” which chron­i­cles the his­tory of the global anti-​​apartheid movement.