The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a joint communication and advocacy campaign, which will see local football players engaged in public sensitisation around the Corona Virus disease (Covid-19).
The MoU will guide UNICEF and SLFA on how to jointly use print, audio and video platforms to disseminate accurate information on how to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and to encourage everyone to take personal responsibility to contain the outbreak in the country. Campaign messages will also help people to identify and respond to the secondary impacts of COVID-19 such as exploitation and abuse of children, disruptions in learning and limitations on social interactions.
“COVID-19 has disrupted many aspects of children’s lives, including their education and their right to play,” said UNICEF Representative, Dr. Suleiman Braimoh. “This initiative reaffirms UNICEF’s commitment to collaborate with different stakeholders towards the common goal of overcoming this disease and allow all children and their families to return to their daily lives”.
This is not the first time that SLFA has joined hands with UNICEF in responding to a health pandemic. During the Ebola Virus outbreak of 2014-2015, SLFA also came on board to use the undeniable power of football across Sierra Leone, to connect with children and their families through messages on how to prevent Ebola.
“In a country like ours, where the power and language of football is entrenched across society, our players are household names and we recognise that messages from them will have a positive impact, particularly on the country’s youths.” said SLFA President Isha Johansen. “As the nation’s parent body for football, the SLFA is committed to support UNICEF’s work with Government in any way possible in the fight against COVID-19.”
Some of the male and female footballers who will be featured in the campaign include Musa “tombo” Kamara, Rafael Koroma, Ibrahim “computer” Turay, Nathaniel Thogovula, Mahmoud Fofanah, Samuel Kwaku Bekoe, Suffian “tormentor” Kalokoh, Momoh Conteh, Hannah “marta” Conteh, Rashidatu Kamara, Adama Kargbo and Isatu Dumbuya.
“We are optimistic that Sierra Leone will resonate with the messages from the footballers and adopt the right behaviours to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, including regular handwashing with soap, using face masks in public places and practicing physical distancing in order to help stop this pandemic.” said Dr Braimoh.