Three players from England's Manchester United Football Club have
joined forces with UNICEF for a multi-media AIDS awareness advertising
campaign in Sierra Leone. From VOA's London news center, Tendai Maphosa
has the details.
Africans love their football. English
Premiership games are followed closely, and the players are household
names on the continent. It may be off-season now, with players taking a
rest. But, starting Saturday, Sierra Leonean football fans will see
some of their heroes on billboards and hear them on radio and
"Hello, I am Ryan Giggs, and I play for Manchester
United. We are working with UNICEF to bring you in Sierra Leone this
message about HIV and AIDS," says one ad.
Ryan Giggs is one of the three
Manchester United players who have lent their voices and images to an
AIDS awareness campaign aimed at young Sierra Leoneans.
with VOA from Freetown, UNICEF representative Geert Cappelaere says
that the joint campaign is part of a multi-pronged effort to make young
people more aware of the growing threat of HIV and AIDS. Cappelaere
says UNICEF has been building partnerships with religious and
traditional leaders, and has now turned to sports to bring the message
"Soccer is definitely the best medium," he said. "It is
the most popular sport in Sierra Leone and definitely Manchester United
is the most popular international team here. If you walk around, you
will see young people walking around in Manchester United T-shirts. So,
that's why we really want to use the popularity, the exposure that
Manchester United has and the power, the authority that players like
Ryan Giggs or Rio Ferdinand or Patrice Evra have here in this country."
says that, although the HIV prevalence in Sierra Leone is only about
1.5 percent, young people face a growing risk of HIV and AIDS. Since
2002, UNICEF says, the country has seen a 75 percent increase in new
HIV infections. Despite this, only 17 percent of young people
understand how to protect themselves against the virus.
I am Rio Ferdinand and I play for Manchester United. We are working
with UNICEF to bring you in Sierra Leone this message about HIV and
AIDS. I work hard to keep my body healthy, so I can stay at the top of
my game. AIDS destroys a healthy body. So, if you want to stay on top
of your game, whatever you do in life, protect yourself and your loved
ones. Wear a condom. Only you can stop AIDS," says one of the ads.
teamed up with UNICEF in 1999 to launch an initiative known as United
for UNICEF. To date, the club has raised over four million dollars,
which have gone to help over 1.5 million children worldwide.