Futsal tournament promotes women’s empowerment and HIV/AIDS awareness
By Indra Nadchatram
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 7 March, 2006 – To mark International Women’s Day, UNICEF and 3R, Malaysia’s innovative TV program, are joining forces to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and women’s empowerment through sport.
The “3R-UNICEF All Women’s Futsal Playoffs 2006” will provide young women an opportunity to have fun while allowing them the space to develop a sense of self-sufficiency, personal autonomy and leadership. At the same time, the event will raise attention in support of the UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS campaign which was launched at the United Nations in New York on October 25, 2005.
Invented in Uruguay in 1930, futsal is a version of football with five players per side, and is played either indoors or outdoors on a basketball court-sized pitch. Originally developed for youth competitions in YMCAs, the sport quickly caught on and is now governed by FIFA, the Federation Internationale de Football Association.
“Participating in sports is a critical part of any child’s physical, mental and social development. For girls in particular, sports can provide additional outcomes by helping them improve their self esteem and self awareness”, said Gaye Phillips, UNICEF Representative to Malaysia.
“Sports teach integrity and self-management by setting objective standards that girls can work to achieve. We all have leadership in us, and to develop that, we need to take turns being the leader and the learner. This is especially important for girls since sports can give them a sense of who they are”, she added.
3R (Respect, Relax, Respond) is a television program created with a similar goal in mind: to empower women by giving them a sense of identity and recognising the importance of their role in society. Each episode of 3R deals with issues that affect youth and children, from serious to fun to controversial, through the use of role-play, interviews and discussions among the three hosts.
Calling all women!
UNICEF’s global experience in using sports as a development tool has illustrated that sports provides a safe and supportive environment for girls in their communities. Sports can offer a venue for expression and the chance to spend free time in positive ways. Equally important is the platform that sports can offer in teaching girls and boys communication and negotiation skills as well as valuable information on other issues such as reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, and substance abuse.
With its rallying cry of “Calling All Women!,” the two day Futsal playoffs will see teams of young women playing against each other for a Trophy and a cash prize in an environment that also provides information on various issues from HIV/AIDS to understanding their rights. The preliminary round will be held on 19 March 2006 at Sportsplanet Sunway. Teams that make it past the preliminaries will then play in the Grand Finals in Berjaya Times Square on 2 April.
At the finals, UNICEF, 3R, and their partners will be providing the public with information and education on issues relating to women’s rights, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS. On hand will be the 3R hosts and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors Celina Khor, Kartini Kamalul Ariffin, and Rafidah Abdullah.
“3R is delighted to partner with UNICEF this year to use our futsal playoffs as a platform to teach young women and girls about HIV/AIDS. We hope that the imaginative use of this popular sport to teach young people about HIV/AIDS will make a positive difference in the lives of our girls”, said 3R TV presenters Celina, Kartini and Rafidah. “Any effort to fight HIV/AIDS is worth supporting.”
In Malaysia, UNICEF has been working with the Government since 1954 by supporting programmes in health, nutrition, water and sanitation, formal and non-formal education as well as services for deprived children in poor urban areas. The focus today includes three new priorities –HIV/AIDS prevention and care; child protection and the prevention of accidents and injuries.