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Football stars help vulnerable children to believe in themselves

© UNICEF / UKRAINE / 2013 / R.Rudakov
Liza, 15 y.o. HIV-positive activist from Ukraine with capitan of England national team Steven G. Gerard

Kyiv, 11 September 2013 - Children in difficult life circumstances supported football players of England and Ukraine on the way to World Cup 2014

The highest attended football game in 2013 took place between England and Ukraine with participation of vulnerable children on 10 September in Kyiv. HIV affected adolescents, children from crisis families and orphans took the football stars to the pitch of the Olympic Stadium for the opening of the game. The dream of those children to participate in the match with famous football players came true. In partnership with Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU), this UNICEF initiative draws public attention to the importance of the protection of the marginalised children's rights and significance of football in their rehabilitation.

There are 8 million children in Ukraine, nearly 100 thousand children live or work in the streets, almost 95 thousand live in institutions, and 165 thousand have disability. From 1995 to 2012, 32 504 children were born from HIV-positive mothers in Ukraine. 2814 out of those were HIV-positive children.

UNICEF Representative in Ukraine Yukie Mokuo states that children affected by HIV/AIDS face discrimination in the Ukrainian society. "Children living with HIV are afraid to disclose their status, they do not believe in getting support from their classmates, teachers, friends and relatives. UNICEF reminds that children with HIV need our attention and support. I believe that football stars will help children to believe in themselves" - said Yukie Mokuo.

To draw attention to children's rights not only in Ukraine but also abroad, UNICEF Ukraine cooperated with the British Council, British Embassy and UK National Committee for UNICEF.

© UNICEF / UKRAINE / 2013 / R.Rudakov
Children with the capitan of Ukrainian national team Oleksandr Kucher

British Ambassador to Ukraine Simon Smith also attended the game. “Providing conditions in which all children can thrive and unleash their potential is always among the highest priorities in any country. The British Embassy in Ukraine is a strong and active supporter of UNICEF’s work to help build a bright future for Ukraine’s children. We are delighted to support this initiative by UNICEF Ukraine and the British Council Ukraine which is aimed at helping children in difficult life situations. It was very touching to watch them take England and Ukraine players to the pitch. I hope this made them feel special. Regardless of the scores, the children are the winners!” – he said.

Lisa, the youngest activist for the rights of HIV-positive children in Ukraine also supported the initiative and joined the national teams of England and Ukraine. She said: "I was very lucky to get at such an important game for our country. It was so amazing that almost 70,000 people including myself and other children watched the game at the stadium. They will remember the match for a long time. I and other children who opened the match with the players will remember this game even longer. This is unforgettable!"

It is the third time UNICEF Ukraine in cooperation with the FFU helps vulnerable children to realize their right for sport and join the football life in the country. This summer a football dream of over 100 children with disabilities, orphans, refugees, street children and HIV affected adolescents was fulfilled during the Ukrainian national team matches with Cameroon, Israel and England. It helped to advocate for the most marginalised children’s rights in Ukraine as more than 130 thousand people attended games at the stadium and around 17 million football fans watched it broadcasting live on TV.

About UNICEF: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is the world leader in protection of children’s rights and interests. The Fund works in more than 190 countries for protection and support of children from early childhood through adolescence. Programs of UNICEF are entirely financed by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. Office of the Fund was opened in Ukraine in 1997. For more information please visit Join us on Twitter, Facebook and ВКонтакте

For more information, please contact:
Yulia Yurova, UNICEF Kyiv, Tel: +38 044 245 2450,
Sergiy Prokhorov, UNICEF Kyiv, Tel: +38 044 245 2450,



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