Girls and women celebrate life at 3R-UNICEF All Women’s Futsal Playoffs 2007
by Indra Nadchatram
JOHOR BAHRU, 17 November 2007 – Some 200 girls and women from the southern region of Peninsular Malaysia came together today to celebrate life and participate in the 3R-UNICEF All Women’s Futsal Playoffs Southern Championships, launched by Her Royal Highness Raja Zarith Sofiah binti Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah, consort to the Regent of Johor.
Organised by Malaysia’s innovative TV program 3R (Respect, Relax & Respond) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World AID Day 2007 event was designed to empower young girls and women to lead healthy lives through engagement in sports.
More than a third of all people living with HIV around the world are under the age of 25, and almost two-thirds of them are female. In Malaysia, the proportion of women and girls reported with HIV has increased dramatically in the last decade or so. In 1990, out of every 83 cases reported, one was female. By 2006 that figure rose to one in seven.
Sisterhood for women and girls
Speaking at the launch of the Playoffs, Her Royal Highness Raja Zarith Sofiah stressed the importance of establishing a sisterhood for women and girls to help and support one another.
“What is of utmost importance is to offer women and girls accurate knowledge about HIV as ignorance will only lead to higher statistics of those infected. But with awareness and education, we can reduce the number of HIV cases amongst women and girls”, added Her Royal Highness.
The Playoffs also highlighted UNICEF’s campaign “Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS” which calls upon every part of global society to join together to put the care and protection of children, adolescents and young people at the center of the HIV and AIDS agenda.
In tandem with this campaign, 3R and UNICEF contributed all funds raised from registration fees for the Southern Championship playoffs to “Intan Lifezone”, an NGO in Johor serving the needs of children and women affected by HIV and AIDS.
“The face of HIV is increasingly that of the young and most vulnerable, particularly girls. Girls are often at higher risk of getting infected with HIV than boys. This is partly because girls are more likely to be pressured into having sex and less likely to be able to control with whom, when and how they have sex,” said Rafidah Abdullah, one of the 3R TV host and a UNICEF Malaysia Goodwill Ambassador.
Added Kartini Kamalul Ariffin, her fellow host and also a UNICEF Malaysia Goodwill Ambassador, “In addition, social attitudes to sex and sex education may also make it more difficult for girls to get the information they need to protect themselves from the virus”.
Empowering girls with education and sport
UNICEF and 3R believe that empowering women and girls to protect themselves and their families from HIV is key to turning the tide of the epidemic in Malaysia. Sport is one platform to help girls build their self esteem and self awareness as it teaches integrity and self-management by setting objective standards that girls can work to achieve. Equally important, sport helps give girls a sense of who they are while allowing them to develop leadership skills.
Twenty three teams, including five under-18 teams vied for cash prizes up to RM1,200. NAJC Shark and Crazy Gurlz walked away with the title of champions for the Open and School categories respectively. This is the fourth year that 3R is organising this tournament (and the second with UNICEF), which has successfully recorded the highest number of women’s teams participating in any futsal tournament in Malaysia three years in a row.
In addition to the futsal matches, participants at the tournament were entertained by Malaysian Idol finalist Dina while the Convent Johor Cheerleaders were present to lend their rousing support to the women and girl futsal players.
The 3R-UNICEF All Women’s Futsal Playoffs 2007 Girls Program is supported by Manchester United FC through its “United for UNICEF” partnership. Championships will also be held in Penang (24 November) and in Kuala Lumpur (2 December).
For more information on how to participate and register, please call Becky 014 332 4084, or Kartini 019 764 0081 or go to www.3r.com.my to register online.
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17 November 2007:
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• The Malaysian Launch