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UNICEF supports community football festivals to promote “Education for All”

UNICEF/SouthAfrica/2008/Jacobs
© UNICEF/SouthAfrica/Jacobs
A girls team taking on the boys in a semi-final match at Thauta Gauta Secondary School outside of Welkom.

“Football I love, but its education that made me who I am today.”

25 January 2008 - In South Africa, UNICEF is supporting community soccer festivals for children in four separate communities to highlight the value of sport and physical activity in developing important lifeskills for children. Around a hundred teams will participate in the soccer festivals which are planned to coincide with the African Cup of Nations and are a celebration of Bafana Bafana, the South African national team in the continental championships.

School based violence, the lack of adequate recreational facilities for children, especially in the rural areas, and poor infrastructure have emerged as major challenges to the education system in South Africa. Coupled with the challenges HIV and AIDS is placing on the educational system, schools and school communities at large, now have to serve as centres of care and support for children, whilst battling against the scourge of violence.

A direct link can be made between young people’s vulnerability to drugs, learner pregnancy, alcohol, violence and risky sexual behaviour that minimises their opportunities for optimal development and the lack of access to recreational facilities and activities such as sport and play. Building on South Africa’s love for sports, communities can be united, through sports, to support and protect their children and create supportive, child friendly communities.

South Africa’s Aaron Mokoena, captain of the national team, Bafana-Bafana, and other international football stars playing in African Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2008, have come together to help UNICEF raise money for children across Africa to receive a quality education. Aaron Mokoena, Captain of Bafana-Bafana expressed his support for the campaign and for UNICEF’s efforts in advocacy on children’s issues: "UNICEF is working to secure a bright future for all of South Africa’s children. By becoming involved with sport and nurturing the talent that all young people possess, education and sport are real and positive alternatives to the violence and crime often found in our society. I want to thank UNICEF for doing a fantastic job, and from the bottom of my heart for investing in children, not only here in South Africa, but across the continent,” he said.

Through a series of radio and television public service announcements, other players such as Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon), Stephen Appiah (Ghana), Nwankwo Kanu (Nigeria), Salomon Kalou (Cote ‘d Ivoire), and Oumar Tchomogo (Benin) reveal the importance of education in their lives and urge the public to support UNICEF by donating R10 through SMS* to the number 38055 or on the UNICEF website at www.unicef.org/ghana

UNICEF and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) have joined together to promote a child’s right to a quality education. The campaign will be featured during the MTN Africa Cup of Nations, Ghana 2008, on billboards and in televised coverage of matches. The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the issue and raise funds.

All funds raised will be used by UNICEF to support governments to realize the Millennium Development Goal to ensure that by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling”.

The four UNICEF-supported  soccer festivals for children are scheduled to take place in Welkom, Freestate (18 January), Khayalitsha, Western Cape (26 January), Soweto, Gauteng (8 February) and Mooiriver, KwaZulu-Natal (9 February).

* Note: Network Operator and administration fees will be deducted from the SMS cost. Service available until the 13/02/08. Helpline 012 354 8201. Errors/failed requests will be billed. SMS charged at premium rates. Free minutes do not apply. All prices include VAT. Obtain bill payers consent before using this service.

Related links:

UNICEF and Confederation of African Football unite to promote quality education for all

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