UNICEF delivers supplies to ensure that every child can score goals in life
This year we celebrate World Children’s Day on the same day as the football World Cup kicks off, offering a chance to show how play can bring joy to girls and boys living in difficult circumstances.
The “beautiful game” is incredibly popular among children and, like other sports and games, is a powerful tool to help vulnerable refugee and displaced children regain a sense of normalcy and learn social skills.
UNICEF works to ensure that all children score goals in life, helping them to overcome challenges resulting from conflicts or natural disasters. Since 2021, UNICEF has delivered more than 210,000 footballs to 58 countries. UNICEF’s footballs are made of rubber and stitched by hand to better resist wear on all kinds of surfaces, including grass, gravel, sand and asphalt. There are two different sizes, one for younger and one for older children.
Most of the balls are delivered as part of recreation kits that contain 26 items for individual and team sports, allowing up to 90 children aged 7-18 to play simultaneously.
Check out the images below to see the joy footballs can bring to girls and boys of all ages.
Good in the air
Sudan – 10-year-old Abdulrazik Adam Abdullah is a fan of Messi and dreams of becoming a football player. He attends primary school and lives with his family in Abu Shok, North Darfur, a camp for internally displaced persons who fled their home due to conflict.
The families living in Abu Shok had to flee their homes more than 10 years ago, leaving all they had behind. Today, the camp is what they call home.
Defeating the odds
India – Nisha Rawat, 15, tries to score a penalty kick during a match in the Makadwali area in the Ajmer district, Rajasthan. In her village, where child marriage persists despite being outlawed, Nisha braved all odds to study and play football and has become an inspiration for many boys and girls. With UNICEF’s support, a local girls’ soccer initiative is focusing on gender inequality and giving teenage girls confidence to fight for their rights.
UNICEF works to end child marriage by addressing it through the entire lifecycle of a child and through the negative social norms that drive the high prevalence of child marriage in India.
Free to kick
South Sudan – Children play as part of a recreational programme organized to help children formerly recruited by armed forces or armed groups in Pibor. Despite their traumatic past experiences, the boys dream about the future and play football with the same enthusiasm as all other children.
With several partners, UNICEF keeps psychosocial programmes running in South Sudan to support the children’s reintegration into society and keep them far from conflict.
Girl to girl marking
Ghana – A player controls the ball at the women's finals of the UNICEF Unified Football for Inclusion tournament at the Akropong School for the Blind in Akropong, Ghana, held in October 2022.
To celebrate World Children's Day in Ghana, UNICEF hosted the football event for schoolchildren who are deafblind. Four schools from the northern and southern regions of Ghana competed in the two-day event.
UNICEF Ghana supports the school with the delivery of first aid kits and school supplies.
Papua New Guinea – Children from the Silku and Kamaneku tribes in Siure, Chimbu play in their neighborhood. The tribes have been in conflict for generations, but attitudes are shifting. A UNICEF-supported programme with participation of parents from both communities has been building relationships between them. The programme includes constructing a joint early childhood development centre for the children of the tribes.
Tackling the weather
Bangladesh – A group of boys play football despite the rain outside a Child-Friendly Space supported by UNICEF in Balukhali, a Rohingya refugee camp in Cox's Bazaar.
About one million Rohingya live in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar. Rohingya rely on humanitarian assistance for protection, food, water, shelter and health, and they are living in temporary shelters in highly congested camps. UNICEF works in the refugee camps in Bangladesh to ensure that every Rohingya child has access to clean water, health care, protection, nutritious food and education.
Making a comeback
Ukraine – A group of children play football in the small village of Serednie, enjoying the opportunity for fun and making new friends.
The sports activity is organized by psychological support group PORUCH, a joint project run by UNICEF and the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine to provide mental health support for children and their parents whose lives have been devastated by the war in Ukraine.
Pakistan – Boys play football during a pause between classes at a UNICEF-supported temporary learning centre for children in Meenhoon Khani Buldi village, Qambar Shahdadkot, in Sindh province. This camp was set up to support internally displaced persons affected by recent catastrophic flooding.
Pakistan has been enduring severe monsoon weather, which has caused widespread flooding and landslides with serious consequences for human lives, property and infrastructure. UNICEF has been delivering safe drinking water, life-saving medical supplies, therapeutic food and hygiene kits to children and families. We have also supported the psychosocial well-being of children affected by the floods.