“Protect The Goal” campaign
KUALA LUMPUR, May 16, 2014 – The Asian Football Confederation (AFC), in conjunction with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), has officially launched the Protect the Goal campaign in Southeast Asia.
Protect the Goal, which was first launched at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, is a football-based HIV prevention programme that serves to help tackle the risk of HIV transmission among young people in the region, largely contributing to the greater progress of reducing the rate of new HIV infections, which is critical to reversing the epidemic globally.
The project in Southeast Asia will comprise of behavioural change communications with youths through mainstream and social media, using the popularity of football as a tool to deliver messages to promote health in the region, while leveraging on the support of AFC’s sponsors and member associations, as well as building partnerships with community-based or youth-led organisations for wider engagement.
At the launch of the campaign, held at the AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur today, AFC Deputy General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John expressed the support of the confederation in promoting the Protect the Goal campaign through some of its Southeast Asian member associations in the region, namely Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand.
“We are proud to be a partner of UNAIDS and the ADB in this most noble campaign. The objectives of the campaign are to use the popularity and power of football as the world’s most popular sport to unite the world towards the goal of an AIDS-free generation,” Dato’ Windsor said.
“With that in mind, the ‘Three Zeroes’ vision driven by UNAIDS in this campaign helps our member associations in the region to take up the cause in their respective countries with the objective of achieving Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS-Related Deaths,” he added.
He further elaborated that Protect the Goal also fits in well with the AFC’s new 10-year Social Responsibility strategy.
This launch is a culmination of months of effort between ADB, UNAIDS and the AFC, after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in November 2013.
Speaking at the press conference, United Nations Resident Coordinator for Malaysia and United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam, Michelle Gyles-McDonnough shared that 12 countries account for more than 90 per cent of new HIV infections in the region: Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
“Through Protect the Goal, we aim to engage with a wider range of young people and hope they will commit themselves to HIV prevention, come forward for HIV testing and counselling, and that they will come on board with us to push for an end to stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV & AIDS,” said Ms. Gyles-McDonnough.
“I must also acknowledge the support of the Asian Development Bank in helping us to push this campaign forward in the region,” she added.
Hairuddin Omar, President of the Professional Footballers’ Association of Malaysia, national player, Amirizdwan Taj Tajuddin and Kuala Lumpur Youth Football Academy players were also present at the event.
As football is a sport followed from a very young age, the campaign’s target audience are young people aged 10 to 14. Therefore, the key to the demographic is to ensure that education on the dangers of HIV/AIDS starts young.
ADB Regional and Sustainable Development Department Senior Social Development Specialist, Dr. Susann Roth, echoed the sentiments expressed by Ms. Gyles-McDonnough and impressed upon the importance to work in partnerships across sectors to continue educating communities about the importance of HIV/AIDS prevention.
“We at ADB believe that the answer to a continuous successful fight against HIV and AIDS lie within our region. We have to work together with governments, civil societies, affected populations, the private sector as well as the broader youth communities to maximise our resources, connections and influence to continue educating everyone, especially the next generation on the risks and preventive measures of HIV/AIDS. Working together towards ZERO INFECTION is the only way we can fight the epidemic in Asia and the Pacific,” said Dr. Susann Roth.
Currently, one Southeast Asian country has taken the initiative in the Protect the Goal campaign and has launched its campaign on March 26, 2014, with the partnership of Myanmar Football Federation (MFF). It has also roped in the Myanmar National League (MNL) and its local football heroes to join in the campaign together with the AFC and UNAIDS.
The activities planned in Myanmar are particularly focused on raising HIV awareness among young people leading up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, where there will be an event profiling the global UNAIDS-led Protect the Goal campaign in Salvador de Bahia this June.
Globally, an estimated 5.4 million adolescents and young people are living with HIV, and 1.8 million are eligible for HIV treatment. Millions of young people living with HIV do not know they are living with the virus, and every day, approximately 2,100 adolescents and young people become newly-infected, which accounts for 36% of all new HIV infections globally.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is the governing body of Asian football and one of the six Confederations making up FIFA. The AFC is responsible for the administration of football in Asia. Among its various responsibilities are: regulating the game, drafting new laws to improve the sport, implementing the law, boosting grassroots and youth football, and conducting major competitions.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS-Related Deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organisations – UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank – and works closely with global and national partners to maximise results for the AIDS response.
Based in Manila, Asian Development Bank (ADB) is owned by 67 members, including 48 from the region. Its main instruments for helping its developing member countries are policy dialogue, loans, equity investments, guarantees, grants, and technical assistance.
ADB’s vision is an Asia and Pacific region free of poverty. Its mission is to help its developing member countries reduce poverty and improve the quality of life of their people. ADB is committed to reducing poverty through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration.
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