FREETOWN, 12 April 2004 – Former International soccer star and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, George Manneh Weah, will be visiting Sierra Leone under the auspices of Kallboxx Production to participate in a number of social and commercial events. UNICEF Sierra Leone and Ambassador George Weah will seize the opportunity to organise a series of social mobilisation activities that will enhance the dissemination of information on HIV/AIDS to adolescents and youths and to give an added thrust to Sierra Leone’s HIV and AIDS prevention programme. Ambassador Weah will be accompanied by equally renowned former international Dutch soccer star, Ruud Gullit and a team of Dutch journalists.
George Weah, grew up in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, where he first learnt to play soccer with home-made rag balls. Being a Liberian, Weah understands the needs of children in difficult circumstances. He became UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador on 7th April 1997. “Today one of my dreams has come true – become part of the UNICEF family,” he said.
Weah and Gullit will tour UNICEF HIV/AIDS programmes within the Western Area and be involved in series of soccer activities from 13th – 15th April. A Dutch TV crew arrived in Sierra Leone on 8th April to film the visit for the UNICEF National Committee of the Netherlands and the Netherlands National Postcode Lottery. The film will be used to raise public awareness among the Dutch audience on the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa, particularly in Sierra Leone. In the Netherlands, the National Postcode Lottery is one of the major donors of UNICEF. Every year they donate millions of euros to UNICEF among others. They also assist UNICEF in the Netherlands to make TV-programmes about the work of the organisation all over the world.
Ambassador Weah’s longstanding commitment to humanitarian activities, especially in Africa, has earned him the admiration of many. Former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela called him the “African Pride”. UNICEF has benefited from Weah’s involvement since 1994, when he helped publicise immunisation campaign in Liberia. Since his appointment as a Goodwill Ambassador, Weah’s efforts on behalf of UNICEF have included vital support for HIV/AIDS education programmes and other projects in Ghana and Liberia. Also, in June 1997 while in Liberia to coach the national team, he promoted vocational training schools where former child combatants and other war-affected youths can learn new skills.
In March 1998, in collaboration with the Italian Committee for UNICEF, Weah launched a CD called ‘Lively Up Africa’ involving the singer Frisbie Omo Isibor and eight other African football stars. The proceeds went to children’s programme in the countries of origin of the soccer players involved.
George Weah has had an extraordinary international soccer career, most notably with the prestigious Italian club AC Milan, with whom he won the Golden Ball Award (for the best European player) and the Italian National Championship. In 1995, FIFA named him World Player and in 1996 he won FIFA’s Fair Play Award. He went on to play in United Kingdom’s Premier League for Chelsea and later for Manchester City.
Weah is Profounder and President of the Junior Professionals, a team he founded in Monrovia in 1994. As a way to encourage young people to remain in school, the club’s only requirement for membership is school attendance. Many of the young people, recruited from all over Liberia, have gone on to play for Liberia’s national team.
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For further information, please contact:
Alexandra Westerbeek, Comm. Officer,
Tel: 235721 Mobile: 076-601-310