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UNICEF celebrates tenth anniversary of ‘Football for Life’

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, 18 July 2012 – Hundreds of children and adolescents participated in the tenth anniversary of ‘Football for Life’ in Honduras. This programme, supported by the Central District Municipality Mayor’s Office and UNICEF, has provided access to sport, education and health care to more than 40,000 children in the most vulnerable neighbourhoods of the capital over the last decade.

© UNICEF Honduras/2012/González
(Top left to right) UNICEF Representative in Honduras Cristian Munduate, Mayor of Tegucigalpa Ricardo Álvarez and football player Héctor Zelaya stand with children at the 'Football for Life' tenth anniversary celebration in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

The event, organized in the Olympic Village in Tegucigalpa, was attended by Mayor Ricardo Alvarez, UNICEF Representative in Honduras Cristian Munduate and hundreds of the programme’s child participants, who were dressed in their team uniforms.

"The credit must be given to Hector 'Pecho de Águila' Zelaya, former player and director of ‘Football for Life’, because he was the one who proposed this project to me 10 years ago when I was president of the National Pro Sports Facilities [Conapid]," said Mr. Alvarez.

"We want to help those who have less... If we have better citizens, we have a better Honduras," he continued, thanking UNICEF for its support.

Ms. Munduate reiterated UNICEF’s commitment to ‘Football for Life’, including plans to expand the programme to the rest of the country.

© UNICEF Honduras/2012/González
Children attend the tenth anniversary of 'Football for Life' in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

‘Much more than football’

Héctor Zelaya – remembered as the first Honduran to score a goal in a World Cup – noted that the programme's purpose is to provide comprehensive education to children and adolescents in Central District. "This is much more than football," he said.

"The ball serves as a means to attract children and young people and awaken the spirit of competition, coexistence and respect between them, instilling good values and principles. It also helps to reduce the dropout rate because having good grades is the requirements to be on the programme," he said.

Alan Alemán joined the project as a teenager. "I come from a poor neighbourhood, the ‘November 30’, and thanks to ‘Football for Life’, I could study. And today I have become a sociologist. Here, in public, I thank them for trusting the poor people and [believing] we can move forward,” he said.

Ingrid Gómez, a 'Football for Life' volunteer, also thanked the mayor. "Probably he didn’t imagine the impact of the programme when it was founded, but you have changed lives of many young people, giving those jobs and responsibilities, teaching teamwork, respect and sharing," she said.


© UNICEF Honduras/2012/González
Children attend the tenth anniversary of 'Football for Life' in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

About ‘Football for Life’

'Football for Life' was founded in 2002 by the Central District Municipality and UNICEF, with strong support from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), American Airlines and a volunteer network that  includes more than a  thousand people, among them parents, referees, teachers and community leaders.

The programme started with about 25 teams. Today, 'Football for Life' reaches about 15,000 children from more than 160 colonies in the Central District. It plans to expand nationally, serving more than 150,000 participants.

Regular attendance at a formal education centre is a requirement for participation. ‘Football for Life’ also helps prevent violence and abuse by offering a healthy alternative to violent environments. It provides information about the prevention of HIV/AIDS and teen pregnancy, as and disseminates general health. The programme also promotes gender equality and teamwork.




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