The Manchester United football club today announced a new four-year pledge to enhance the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Sport for Development work aimed at incorporating the power and potential of sport into its country programmes around the world, UNICEF said.
UNICEF and Manchester United provided details of the plan at a press conference in Beijing where players presented children from China's Sichuan region with 500 Sport-in-a-Box kits as part of a programme funded by the football club to educate school children about the risks of trafficking.
Filled with all the essential tools to play a range of team sports, Sport-in-a-Box will assist the programme by creating an informal, playful environment in which children are more receptive to the dissemination of important trafficking prevention messages.
Trafficking of women and children in China is high on the agenda of the Government of China and UNICEF. The Manchester United-funded pilot venture in Sichuan focuses on the all-important prevention aspect, by investing in the education of children to avoid them being trafficked in the first place, UNICEF said.
It said this latest pledge extends the established 'United for UNICEF' public-private partnership from six years ten years, making it the longest collaboration between a premiership football club and a global charity. Since the partnership began in 1999, Manchester United has raised over £1.5 million for UNICEF, directly helping over 1.5 million children.
Sport is recognized by the UN as a powerful and cost-effective way to advance the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the internationally agreed set of development targets aimed at fighting a host of socio-economic ills, UNICEF also said.