NEW YORK, 29 July 2003 – Surrounded by aspiring young soccer stars, manager of Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson and four players will lead a soccer clinic today on the UN Lawn. The event celebrates the United for UNICEF partnership, which raised more than £1 million to support UNICEF’s programmes around the globe since 1999.
“Over the past three years, UNICEF has been very fortunate to have Manchester United on our side,” said Carol Bellamy, UNICEF Executive Director. “Football plays a crucial role in supporting and protecting children around the world and we are delighted that Manchester United, through the United for UNICEF partnership, are such enthusiastic supporters in our goal to end child exploitation.”
Sir Alex Ferguson, who has met and talked with children suffering from exploitation said: “Hearing about child exploitation is shocking enough, but meeting children face to face, as the team and I did when we visited a UNICEF-supported project in Bangkok two years ago, really brings home the vulnerability of these innocent victims.” He continued: “Shattered childhoods were being rebuilt at the Bangkok project, and without UNICEF’s support many of the kids there wouldn’t have had a second chance.”
Earlier this year, Manchester United pledged their support to UNICEF for a further three years during which time the partnership will focus on raising awareness about issues linked to child exploitation including child trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation and child labour.
Sir Alex, together with Roy Carroll, Quinton Fortune, Ryan Giggs and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will pass on tips to a group of young football players from the Brooklyn Patriots and Manhattan Spirit football teams. UNICEF’s Executive Director, Carol Bellamy, Mrs. Nane Annan, soccer legend Sir Bobby Charlton, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador George Weah and invited United Nations ambassadors will also be on hand to highlight UNICEF’s work to put an end to the global problem of child exploitation
Football is a universal language for scores of children and teenagers across the globe. They play on football fields, playgrounds, narrow alleys, car parks and refugee camps. But sport is more than a game -- it's a positive lifestyle. It teaches children to trust each other. It lures them away from drugs and violence and provides them with a protective environment -- where they can grow up healthy, fit and self-confident.
UNICEF's experience shows that the power of sport reaches children and young people from all walks of life. Football can even help children recover from the scars of war by providing them with a sense of normality, fostering self-esteem and team spirit.
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Kate Donovan, UNICEF Media, New York (1+212)326-7452 e-mail: email@example.com