African soccer stars have a duty to tackle continent’s challenges

2010-10-27 08:08

African soccer players were duty-bound to use their hero status to confront the continent’s challenges, SA Football Association president Kirsten Nematandani said yesterday.

“African football players do not live in an insular bubble of their own that cuts them off from the realities that give Africa a bad reputation,” he said.

“African players know about HIV and Aids, hunger, poverty, ill-health, political strife and tension. African players are familiar with Afro-pessimism.

“Therefore, African players are duty-bound to be in the forefront of confronting these challenges that face the continent through using their hero status to make a positive contribution.”

Nematandani was speaking at the UNAIDS consultation on the role of sport global advocacy in Geneva, Switzerland, according to a statement from Mabalane Mfundisi, the executive director of the awareness campaign “Show me your number”.

He was accompanied to the talks by SA Football Players’ Union deputy general secretary Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe.

They outlined South African football’s achievements and challenges in the fight against HIV/Aids and the steps it intended taking – focusing on case studies from the 2010 World Cup and their “Show me your number” HIV prevention project.

Show me your number uses the respect and hero status of footballers in their communities to encourage regular testing for HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections to eradicate stigma and to change behaviour through life skills training.

The players were not glorified poster boys or girls with nothing to offer, but powerful tools who needed to be supported in their endeavours to change the world and make it a better place, said Gaoshubelwe.

“As players of the world, we entertain the people, and through our actions we create a better world. We fight against HIV and Aids, we advocate for peace, we make dreams a reality.”

Mfundisi said the “Show me your number” campaign was in evidence at Banyana Banyana’s game against Zimbabwe at the Mehlareng Stadium in Tembisa on Sunday.

He said 3 988 spectators received information about practising safe sex and 2 000 condoms were distributed.

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