Improving Lives Through Sport
In the run up to the World Cup football finals in South Africa, the Spanish-based initiative, Play4Africa, has embarked on a long road trip to raise awareness about some of the key problems facing millions of young Africans - including poverty, infant mortality, lack of sports opportunities, disease, especially HIV and AIDS, malaria and water-borne diseases - and to reinforce their "right to play."
The Play4Africa convoy, which left Almeria in southern Spain on March 7 and is scheduled to reach Cape Town on the June 11 opening day of the World Cup, will also provide footballs, boots and humanitarian aid to needy people in the 14 countries on its route south. These include thousands of young refugee sport lovers in countries such as Sudan, Rwanda and Kenya.
UNHCR will be providing logistical help in certain countries to Play4Africa, which promotes using football as a vehicle for achieving personal development and improving self esteem and encourages positive life style choices. A number of top players and Spanish clubs have given their backing to the initiative, including Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, which is a key sports partner of UNHCR.
Football fans, especially in Spain, are being asked to donate funds or footballs. The campaign hopes to receive 10,000 footballs and 30,000 sets of football equipment from top clubs, companies and individual donors. These will be distributed en route, along wth thousands of disease prevention kits containing malaria nets, water purifiers and educational material on how to prevent disease.