FAM partners with UNAIDS: Silver to play BB to launch HIV awareness campaign

Football Association of Malawi ( FAM)  has  partnered with UNAIDS in the fight against HIV-AIDS   campaign  dubbed ‘Protect the Goal’. scheduled to be launched on Sunday at the Silver Stadium where Big Bullets and Silver Strikers will tussle each other in a friendly match.

UNAids country coordinator Amakobe Sande and FAM chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda said the development follows a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the continent’s football governing body CAF and UNAids earlier this year.

Eight teams will participate in a tournament as part of the launch activities for Under 17 girls teams and boys from Lilongwe.

The Project aims at raising awareness of HIV and mobilize young people to  commit to HIV prevention.

In his remarks, FAM general secretary Sugzo Nyirenda said football in Malawi has never stood out to actively participate in the HIV prevention fight and underlines that this campaign is therefore a first that carefully  targets the most high risk group in the HIV fight.

FAM and UNAIDS showing solidarity….Photo Jeromy Kadewere

Nyirenda stressed that the interventions among the youth who are ardent football participators through education and skills training is the only way that youth of this country can be targeted to receive and use HIV AIDS messages.

He also said FAM has outlined a number of objectives of this campaign like communicating prevention messages to all Under 17 teams across the country.

The FA will also be communicating HIV treatment messages to all Under 17 football teams across Malawi.

“We will utilize the existing structures for Under 17 football to communicate and influence the youth against high risk behaviours. The youth being youth are usually in pursuit of excellence and peer acclaim,” said Nyirenda.

He also outlined activities that the campaign will embark on to arrest the absence of active information.
For instance, the FA will engage popular and well behaved football personalities to act as ambassadors in order to give face to the campaign.

“The materials to assist in the training and information dissemination will be created and rolled out to all under 17 trainers through training seminars. This will ensure that all youth in all parts of the country are trained the same messages and there is consistency in the message delivery,” he said.

The HIV AIDS manual will also include training o footballing skills in order to make the youth see the relevance of the HIV AIDS education to their passion for the game.

Nyirenda also hinted that Under 17 teams will compete at regional level twice within a seven month period in order to identify the best teams to play in the national finals.

The games will be played within the communities and on league basis.

UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Malawi Amakobe Sande said  they were pleased to have teamed up with FAM in order to help young Malawians to protect their goal and their life.

She said the purpose of the campaign is to promote key HIV prevention messages among the youth and specifically the adolescents.
“This will be done through information and education sessions by the football coaches as well as by two prominent young players who will be the spokes persons for the campaign,” she said.

Sande said the aim of this campaign is to use football as a platform for scaling up access to HIV information and services among the youth, as well as to mobilize young to commit to HIV prevention.

“The youth and especially the adolescents have not been targeted enough in our HIV prevention programmes and when you hear that only 42 per cent young people ( 15-24) have accurate and comprehensive knowledge of HIV and that 6,700 new infections occurred in 2012 among adolescents aged 15-19 , there is an urgent need to equip them with the right information and ensure they access the services they need to protect themselves,” she said.

The campaign will continue until the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.  UNAIDS and Confederations of African Football signed a Memorandum of Understanding to launch the protect the Goal campaign in 2013.

FAM and UNAIDS officials during the press conference….Photo Jeromy Kadewere

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