|Nils Kastberg, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, and Joseph Blatter, FIFA President, with two adolescents from Trujillo and Piura.|
By María Pía Valdivia
LIMA, 5 October 2005 – The ‘Teenagers Always Win!’ campaign, an alliance between UNICEF and FIFA – international football’s governing body – ended on Saturday, 1 October 2005. FIFA President Joseph Blatter and UNICEF’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Nils Kastberg, brought the campaign to a close with an entertaining and informal discussion attended by teenagers selected from the different venues where the Under-17 World Cup was played.
“It isn't often that teenagers have a chance to talk to authorities about what affects them, their concerns and even what they want for the future. Hearing them speak about the success of these meetings is a pleasure, because it means we have managed to promote many of their rights through this campaign,” said Mr. Kastberg. He also indicated the activities developed during the campaign have strengthened the working alliance between FIFA and UNICEF on behalf of children and young people around the world.
FIFA’s President, Mr. Blatter, expressed his satisfaction with the results of this joint campaign sponsored by FIFA and UNICEF, saying the Under-17 World Cup was a two-week opportunity for adolescents to play a leading role, both on and off the field.
The prominent Peruvian sports journalist, Jorge Salazar, said “the FIFA-UNICEF campaign promoted during this championship made it possible for authorities, journalists and public opinion to understand that by working to solve adolescents’ problems, we can effectively modify the results, not only in sports, but also in their whole lives.”
|FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter with a 14-year-old mother and her baby. The ’Teenagers Always Win' Campaign seeks to help Peruvian adolescents with the challenges they face today.|
During the discussions adolescents from Chiclayo, Iquitos, Piura and Trujillo talked about the agreements reached during their talks with local authorities. The main agreements reached call on giving young people a place to meet and organize their activities, arranging community venues for sports and recreation, and organizing informative talks on the topics adolescents are most interested in.
“We've never had a chance to talk openly with our authorities and to bring up the problems that concern us. This has been an experience we will never forget. Hopefully, they will honour their commitments," said Stefany Díaz, a 15-year-old girl.
In Peru adolescents are still a high-risk group without protection from various forms of exploitation. Nearly thirteen per cent of the Peruvian population – slightly more than 3.6 million people – is between 12 and 18 years of age. Access to education is limited. In 2003 only 2.3 million students were enrolled in high school. Thirty-three per cent of the teenage population works, and half of them combine work with school. According to estimates, in eight out of ten cases of sexual abuse, the aggressor is a member of the household. Thirteen per cent of all teenage girls between 15 and 19 years of age are mothers already or are pregnant.
‘Teenagers Always Win!’ shows how football can promote the rights of young people and highlight their human potential. This is exactly why the FIFA-UNICEF alliance has continually gained force – and becomes more vital by the day.