AS Asia’s top football teams battle it out for the 2015 Asian Cup, 150 children from across Sydney will compete at the Dream Asia Unity Football Festival in support of One Goal – a campaign that uses football as the catalyst to improve the nutritional status of children in Asia and Australia.
The football festival will take place from Wednesday 21 to Friday 23 January at the Hockey Centre at Sydney’s Olympic Park and will combine soccer, family entertainment and health promotion and education.
A key aspect of the festival will be the One Goal AFC Asian Cup Legacy Forum on Friday, which will gather football, civil society, government, academics and food industry stakeholders to discuss child malnutrition in Australia and across Asia.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) general secretary Dato’ Alex Soosay said the AFC was proud to be in Australia working alongside World Vision to level the nutritional playing field for children in the region.
“World Vision has programs in the majority of AFC’s member associations,” he said. “We’re excited to be working together through One Goal to help make the right kind of nutrition a reality for children in the region.”
Football Federation of Australia (FFA) chief executive officer David Gallop said the football festival tournament allowed the children of Sydney to emulate the success of their Socceroo role models on the field.
“It’s great to see the spirit of the Asian Cup alive and well in Sydney,” Mr Gallop said. “Nutritious food and exercise enables the Socceroos to play at their best and similarly at the football festival, kids will learn that this is the key to growing up healthy and strong.”
Football United chief executive Anne Bunde-Birouste said the festival would unite children from different backgrounds in pursuit of one shared goal.
“This festival aims to highlight football’s capacity to promote inclusion, a healthy and active lifestyle and the chance to support youth to become champions in life and in football,” Ms Bunde-Birouste said.
“The tournament reflects Australia’s extraordinary multicultural diversity, uniting girls and boys aged between 13 and 15 from more than 50 different backgrounds including Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America as well as Indigenous and Australian-born youth.”
World Vision Australia chairman George Savvides said World Vision Australia was proud to be working alongside its One Goal partners to make nutrition for every child in the region an achievable reality.
“One Goal is an opportunity for World Vision to build a long-term sustainable partnership with our Asian Cup partners to help kids across the region get the best possible start to life.”
Lawrence Haddad co-chair of the Independent Expert Group for the Global Nutrition Report said despite its economic dynamism, Asia still contained over half of all the world’s 160 million stunted infants.
“These children are more likely to die before their fifth birthday,” Mr Haddad said. “Those that survive will not thrive—they will learn less in school, earn less in the workforce and be more prone to diabetes and heart disease in later life. We know what to do to end this – expand the coverage of nutrition programs by making nutrition a political priority.”
One Goal funds will support World Vision’s health and nutrition projects in Australia, Nepal, Vietnam, Mongolia and India that promote exclusive breast-feeding education, improved access to nutritious foods and sports for development programs.
Source: World Vision Australia