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Opening Remarks by Mr. Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, UNICEF Representative at the launch of the Ho Chi Minh City Football for Community Outreach Programme

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Date: Tuesday, 30 June 2015
Launch of the Ho Chi Minh City Football for Community Outreach Programme
District 1 Sport Centre, # 1 Huyen Tran Cong Chua, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City


  • Ms. Nguyen Thi Lien, Deputy Director, HCMC DOLISA
  • Mr. Suong, Vice Chair of HCMC Football Federation
  • Representatives from HCMC DOLISA, Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism, HCMC Football Federation, district authorities
  • Partners from Manchester United and from UNICEF National Committee in the United Kingdom,
  • Ladies and gentlemen


It is for me a great pleasure and privilege to launch today the Football for Community Outreach Programme in Ho Chi Minh City.

One of the rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that is little known, sometimes not talked about, or even derided, is the right of every child to play.

Under the Convention, the State of Viet Nam has agreed to respect and promote the right of the child to play and provide appropriate and equal opportunities for recreational and leisure activity.

Very often, we, as adults, tend to devalue "play". We see it as frivolous, as time wasted, or not as important as 'academic study' and 'housework'.

However, research consistently shows the central importance of 'play' in the full development of children, especially between themselves.

'Play' and 'recreation' are essential to the health and well-being of children and promote the development of creativity, imagination, self-confidence, as well as physical, social, cognitive and emotional strength and skills.

Children are more connected to family, community, city and society when they are given the chance to play and be children.

Unfortunately, there are some children that do not have opportunities available for them to play – especially poor children, often girls, children in institutions, and other marginalized groups of children.

UNICEF Viet Nam has been working closely with Ho Chi Minh City to support the fulfilment of the rights of all children. With the support of Manchester United through the UNICEF UK National Committee, we are working to strengthen local child protection systems in HCMC and seven other provinces.

The support from Manchester United includes the Football for Community Outreach Programme. This programme aims to build local capacity of football coaches, youth and social workers to engage with marginalized boys and girls in a regular and sustainable way, using football to promote protective behaviours among children and promote their engagement in the community.

This programme focuses on children who are often invisible or forgotten – children not in school, whose home environment is not the safe and nurturing place that it should be, children from poor families, children from institutions, child labourers and children who have come into conflict with the law.

At the same time, this programme is an excellent example of UNICEF, utilizing its high profile international relationships and networks, to work in partnership with Ho Chi Minh City to assist children in need.

We are also very grateful for the cooperation and leadership of the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee, DOLISA, HCMC Football Federation, Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism, district authorities, community coaches, youth and social workers and especially the children in the development of the Football for Community Outreach Programme that we are launching today.

This programme is an opportunity for Ho Chi Minh City to embrace all its children and provide an enabling environment to bring vulnerable children into the arms of their family, their community, and their city.

Ho Chi Minh City is well-known for leading innovations using internal resources. I am confident our work in Ho Chi Minh City will demonstrate its value for children and in terms of applicability in other cities and provinces across Viet Nam, and even across our ASEAN region.

I am also confident that this programme shows great potential to foster partnerships with the private sector, with civil society, and media who are all here today to advocate, raise awareness and address children's pressing needs.

Thank you for your attention – Xin cảm ơn!