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UNICEF partners with Norway to support children's football

Norway parnership with UNICEF
© UNICEF Zambia/2013-MMaseko
Some of the participants in the football tournament

Football Tournament Inspires Children
NDOLA, Zambia (By Mark Maseko, UNICEF Zambia) -- In January 2013, the Royal Norwegian Embassy sponsored a football tournament for Ndola-based children’s teams to coincide with the international friendly match between Zambia and Norway. A total of 350 children from low income areas participated in the weeklong tournament, which was held in partnership with UNICEF and a local sports non-government organization (NGO), Sport In Action (SIA).

The activity, which targeted boys and girls aged between 12 and 15, was held under the theme “Sports for Lifestyle Project.” Throughout the week, the children also received sensitization on HIV prevention and life skills.

The children interacted with Norwegian Minister of International Development Heikki Holmås who had travelled with his country’s football team. Mr. Holmås also presented prizes -- footballs, trophies, medals and football attire -- to the winning teams at an event held at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium. He was joined by Zambia’s Sports Deputy Minister, Hon. Nathaniel Mubukwanu, MP, and UNICEF Chief, Education Dr. Hassan Ali Mohamed and Norwegian Ambassador to Zambia, His Excellency Arve Osftad.

SIA Executive Director Frankson Mushindu was happy with the initiative, which benefited children in under developed communities.
“As SIA, we are working with UNICEF to provide life skills to more than 1,000 pupils in schools. Sport plays a critical role in helping youth prevent being infected with HIV. Sport is also important in promoting a healthy lifestyle, so we thank the Norwegian Embassy for helping children in Ndola,” said Mr. Muchindu.

UNICEF Zambia and Norway partnrship
© UNICEF Zambia/2013-MMaseko
Norwegian Embassy staff and UNICEF Zambia staff pose with the winning team of the tournament

Royal Norwegian Embassy Counsellor Jan-Erik Studsrød said that the game between Zambia and Norway was a great opportunity to direct focus to the next generation Zambian football players.

“This initiative is to support young Zambian football talent. The goal is to bring attention to important causes such as HIV prevention and to gather football-interested children in a fun event that also brings focus to the many years of friendship and cooperation between Norway and Zambia,” said Studsrød.

UNICEF Zambia Officer-in-Charge Shaya Asindua said that Zambia need to pay more attention to young people in order to reduce new HIV infections in the country.

“Youth HIV risk is greatly increased when they have limited comprehensive HIV knowledge and are ill-equipped with life skills to delay sexual debut, resist peer-pressure, and negotiate safer sex. Youth are also at risk if they cannot access an HIV test and other high impact HIV prevention services such as male circumcision, condoms, and antiretroviral drugs,” said Asindua.

The Norwegian Embassy also supported the event with 200 branded footballs made in Zambia by a local organisation, Alive and Kicking, which creates sustainable employment through the manufacture of sports equipment. Some of the footballs were distributed to the participating teams while others will later go to different communities for use by children.

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