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Going for the goal

For me, the sport of soccer evokes memories of a suburban childhood: freshly laundered uniforms and energy drinks, grass stains and post-game pizza parties. Never once during the many years of weekend tournaments and afternoon practices did I consider the children across the world enjoying the same sport, in dusty streets and alleyways instead of newly sodded fields. And I certainly never considered the many children denied the fundamental right I took for granted each day”the right to play.


A boy balances a soccer ball on his head outside a UNICEF child-friendly space in Antananarivo, Madagascar

© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-1231/Giacomo Pirozzi

A boy balances a soccer ball on his head outside a UNICEF child-friendly space in Antananarivo, Madagascar

Nishi Kumar is working as an intern at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF throughout the Fall. This is her fourth post for Fieldnotes.

For me, the sport of soccer evokes memories of a suburban childhood: freshly laundered uniforms and energy drinks, grass stains and post-game pizza parties. Never once during the many years of weekend tournaments and afternoon practices did I consider the children across the world enjoying the same sport, in dusty streets and alleyways instead of newly sodded fields. And I certainly never considered the many children denied the fundamental right I took for granted each day”the right to play.


A boy balances a soccer ball on his head outside a UNICEF child-friendly space in Antananarivo, Madagascar

© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-1231/Giacomo Pirozzi

A boy balances a soccer ball on his head outside a UNICEF child-friendly space in Antananarivo, Madagascar

UNICEF has always recognized the critical role that sports and recreation play in a child’s life, not only as a form of enjoyment and exercise, but also as a developmental tool that can help improve the lives of children, families and communities. In countries both at peace and at war, UNICEF uses sports festivals and games to promote good health; teach important values and leadership skills; encourage girls’ education; and warn about the harmful effects of smoking, alcohol and drug abuse. We also use the cohesiveness of team sports to reach and include children who traditionally face discrimination“such as former child soldiers, children with disabilities and diseases, orphans and refugees.

UNICEF programs across the world strive to give every child the right to play. They also use sports and games to make other initiatives more enjoyable and interactive. In May, for instance, we supported a contest called GameChangers

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