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UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Leo Messi responds to questions from children in Barcelona

"If it was possible, I would exchange my goals for teachers and schools for all children"

BARCELONA, 9 December 2010 – Leo Messi, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and footballer for Football Club Barcelona and the Argentinean national team, today responded to questions asked by children from twelve schools in Spain and Argentina.

In November, these children learned about their right to sport and play, as stated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  The children prepared questions for Messi and each child also built a game using recycled materials. Children in Argentina asked their questions through a video while those in Spain had the opportunity to meet with Messi himself in the facilities of Football Club Barcelona at Camp Nou.

During the meeting Messi said: "I like that football reminds me of the importance of working with children. Football is much more than a sport. If it was possible, I would exchange my goals for teachers and schools for all children, and also for food to allow all children to grow healthy,"

The most surprising question the children asked was about the cause he would like to “stick a goal to”.  His answer was straightforward: "Child mortality, because the causes which are behind 22,000 deaths of children under 5 every day are preventable".

Regarding the work of UNICEF, the player said "I believe in the valuable work of UNICEF to improve the lives of children around the world. This work brings real change to the lives of millions of children."

“Sports unites us all, we meet other children and helps us make friends from other countries and other age groups…”

“I believe that together we can help many children. I support UNICEF because it’s all over the world and reaches millions of children in need”.

Children asked Leo which unjustice he would score a goal against. He answered that he would like to score a goal against serious diseases that affect very young kids”. He remembered that from his own Foundation, he has activated several projects orientated to disabled children, as the construction of a fun zone adapted to them in a Barcelona Hospital,

About Haiti Leo said: “It was a wonderful but hard experience, too. I had seen on TV what happened in Haiti and what’s still happening, but to see it in person is very tough. I want to remind everybody that problems in Haiti persist and we need to continue to provide all our support because we can do a lot and children in Haiti still need us”.

A question that made Leo Laugh came from Argentina by video connection. “Did you imagine when you used to play football at school that it would become your profession?”.  “When I started playing at school I was doing it for fun, because I enjoyed it. I continue to play for the very same reasons, because I enjoy the game, the ball and the pitch”.

He will never forget that, at his very beginnings, his professional life wasn’t easy, “because I was a little kid and everything was new, but it was my own decision one I took when I was thirteen trying to make my dream come true. My family fully supported my decision”.

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Messi and UNICEF
Leo Messi was appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in March this year.  In the summer he travelled to Haiti to learn about the situation of those affected by the earthquake. While in Haiti, Leo experienced firsthand the impact a large natural disaster has on the lives of millions of children.  This year he also participated in the "Brothers for life" campaign to promote the prevention of HIV in South Africa during the World Cup. In the past he has supported several fundraising initiatives to benefit UNICEF programmes in Argentina.

Messi was awarded the FIFA World Player in 2009, when he also won the Golden Ball. His accomplishments are known throughout the world, but it was his determination to use his fame to help the most vulnerable children, which led to his appointment as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

UNICEF works in over 150 countries and territories to try to guarantee children the right to survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. UNICEF, which is the largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, works to improve health and nutrition of children, the water quality and sanitation, quality basic education for all children and protection of children from violence, exploitation and HIV / AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from individuals, corporations, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

For further information, please contact:
Dail Alli
Tel +34 93 609 160 051 / 91 378 85 91

Laia Ruich,
Tel + +34 93 695 108 142 / 93 453 17 82




Video (in Spanish)

9 December 2010: UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Lionel Messi, met with children in Barcelona to answer their questions and play with them.
 VIDEO in Youtube | Realplayer

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