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MOZAMBIQUE: Saving young lives with football

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and national football players in Mozambique celebrated Global Football Day for Children on Wednesday by educating young players about HIV/AIDS.

This year's World Cup has been dedicated to children, the first time that the games have been dedicated to a humanitarian cause. UNICEF and the international football body FIFA have created an alliance which will use the interest shown in football to highlight the major problems children are facing today - and to present possible solutions.

According to UNICEF, during the 90-minute span of a football match, some 400 young people between 15 to 24 years old around the world will be infected with the HI virus. About 100 children under the age of 15 will die of AIDS, and another 400 will lose their parents to AIDS.

UNICEF and Federação Moçambicana de Futebol (FMF), the national branch of FIFA, organised a match between the national team and a selection of young players in Namaacha, a town near the Swaziland border.

"Football players are role models. That is why they can play a decisive role in the fight against HIV/AIDS. By using their influence they can help young people make an informed choice to protect themselves and others. If they spread the message, they can save lives," UNICEF country representative Marie-Pierre Poirier, said in a statement.

Before the match, brochures with HIV/AIDS information were distributed to a stadium filled with children. The match marked the beginning of an initiative to use local football players to educate the youth about the epidemic, Michael Klaus, UNICEF Communication Officer, told PlusNews.

Of the estimated 600 new infections per day in Mozambique, nearly one third occur among adolescents and young adults, the statement noted.

FMF-President Mário Esteves Coluna said: "We are taking the pass ... Players and coaches can contribute to the fight against HIV/AIDS by encouraging an open discussion on how to avoid an infection."

For more information on the UNICEF/FIFA campaign

Theme (s): Children,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

Other OCHA Sites
United Nations - OCHA
DFID - UK Department for International Development
Irish Aid
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation - SDC