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© UNICEF Brazil/2007/Versiani
Girls in Brazil play football as part of a UNICEF-supported programme to help them overcome social barriers.

Team UNICEF is built upon a deep-seated understanding that play has the power to transform and improve the lives of children.

UNICEF recognises that around the globe there is a force that can attract billions of people around a single event and motivate billions of others in collective or individual active participation - young and old, rich and poor, girls and boys alike - this is the unique power of sport.

Team UNICEF is an attempt to unite UNICEF's sports-related activities and partnerships to drive and enhance change for children. The initiative is built around the idea that sport can change children's lives by helping break down barriers, promote participation, alter attitudes and include the excluded. UNICEF’s goal is to amplify its existing sport-related programs and partnerships to improve the lives of children globally.

Play in all its forms is the right of every child. Safe and inclusive play and sport are tools for improving children’s lives. Sport contributes to healthy child development; it builds self-esteem and life skills. Sport can mobilize communities; foster peace and tolerance; and teach important life lessons about respect, cooperation and leadership. Above all, play and sport help all children, even the poorest and most marginalized, to have fun and enjoy their childhood! UNICEF’s Sport for Development (S4D) work is rooted in its commitment to ensure every child’s right to play and recreation, as stated in Article 31 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the right to sport, which is specifically contained in other international treaties.

Today, UNICEF is a leader in the sport for development field with more sport-based initiatives than any other UN organization. It is forging innovative partnerships with a broad range of sport organizations, athletes and networks that have an impact on child survival, development, education, and protection to mobilize resources for children.

UNICEF is creating the largest team ever to help shine a global spotlight on UNICEF regional, national and local activities which leverage sport to benefit children. The initiative will be inviting new and existing partners: UNICEF Ambassadors, professional and amateur athletes and teams, sport associations and federations, private sector companies, civil society, media and individuals to ‘join the team’. The global launch is scheduled for fall 2014.




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UNICEF’s Gary Strieker reports on the use of sport programmes to help schoolchildren recover from conflict.
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