Three of the famous Manchester United players Rio Ferdinand Ryan Giggs and Patrice Evra have recorded messages titled Children are the hidden face of HIV/AIDS to Sierra Leonean Youths for the Manchester United HIV/AIDS supported campaign in Sierra Leone which will be used during the launching on Saturday.
The messages read that while HIV/AIDS is high on national health agendas worldwide, children are too forgotten in efforts to combat this global pandemic.
Football is the universal language of hundreds of millions of people around the world including countless children and teenagers. Young people play in narrow, urban alleyways, in refugee camps, in abandoned swimming pools in car parks, war zones, on street corners wherever there are young people there seems to be football.
In order to reach the football loving fans in Sierra Leone, UNICEF, through the UK National Committee for UNICEF, forged links with the Manchester United soccer club (a highly revered club in Sierra Leone) to design and disseminate HIV/AIDS prevention messages to the young people.
They went further that the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports and the National HIV/AIDS Secretariat have developed a great deal of interest in this initiative and have involved media institutions, such as Search for Common Ground (SFCG) to launch a massive campaign through football, street vox pop backed by radio jingles and television shows.
The messages also stated that these have been recorded in the UK by these famous footballers and the Freetown launch will be replicated in all regional headquarters to carry out a thorough drive towards creating a wholesome awareness in young people about HIV/AIDS. Football is the most popular sport in the world, played by hundreds of millions of Children.
The game can provide an important diversion in an otherwise difficult life.
It helps young people fill free time in a productive way and can help them develop a sense of normalcy.
The message also stated that UNICEF sees football as a valuable educational tool, a familiar setting in which to bring potentially life-saving information to hard-to reach young people including children.
In these and many other ways football can help young people reclaim their childhood in situations where it has been forcibly put on hold.