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Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS takes to the football field

© UNICEF Malaysia/2007/Nadchatram
Young Malaysian footballers join Ms. Gaye Phillips, Dato’ Redzuan Tan Sri Sheikh Ahmad and Figo’s Managing Director Mr. Tang Kok Wai to present the 2007 First Touch Football Program official jersey in support of Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS.

By Indra Nadchatram

KUALA LUMPUR, 8 January 2007 – The Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS Campaign by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will take to the field when more than 100 Malaysian girls and boys ages 6 to 15 years old don their official jerseys for the First Touch Football Program 2007.

Initiated in 1996 by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), the First Touch Football Program provides children in the Klang Valley with an opportunity to build their self-esteem and socialise in a safe environment through the game of football.

Teaching respect and discipline

“Football is a team sport, which means that when you start to play, you have to exercise self-discipline. Discipline is the first rule. The second is respect. Respect not only for your team-mates but also for your opponents,” said FAM’s Deputy President Dato’ Redzuan Tan Sri Sheikh Ahmad.

Recognising the threat of HIV/AIDS on young lives, FAM in partnership with Figo Sdn. Bhd., has chosen to use the 2007 First Touch Football Program in support of Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS. The program will promote the global AIDS campaign through childrens football jerseys and the FAM website as well as explore opportunities to introduce HIV/AIDS education to the young footballers during their weekend football clinics.

In Malaysia, new HIV infections are doubling every three years with an average of 17 people testing HIV-positive daily. Of the 74,000 people infected in Malaysia, almost forty per cent occur in people below the age of 29. Cultural sensitivities are one of the main reasons cited for the low levels of AIDS awareness amongst young people. Silence, ignorance and complacency also contribute to the spread of  HIV/AIDS.

© UNICEF Malaysia/2007/Nadchatram
Gaye Phillips: "Football helps save young lives".

Helping children take control of their lives

According to UNICEF’s Representative to Malaysia, Ms. Gaye Phillips, football helps children take control of their lives by providing them with the knowledge, skills and space to cope with the pains of growing up.

“Football equips young people with the right skills to cope with the challenges of life. It's a tool for wooing a young body away from the lures of drugs, unsafe sex, or violence. It's a way to help ensure that young people grow up healthy, fit and full of self-esteem.  And, what's more, it's a manifestation of the right to play that the Convention on the Rights of the Child includes as one of the fundamental rights of all children,” said Ms. Phillips who is also UNICEF’s Special Representative to Brunei and Singapore.

"Simply put, football has the power to capture the imagination and interest of children and is a powerful tool to saving young lives,"  she added. 

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Unite against AIDS



The Malaysian Launch
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Video


November 2005:

UNICEF Representative to Malaysia Gaye Phillips (2004-2007) speaks about the impact of HIV and AIDS in the country.

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The AIDS Response

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