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Ballack inspires young people to tackle HIV prevention

01-22-2013 15:33 BJT

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UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador and football star, Michael Ballack spent the weekend in South Africa learning how HIV impacts lives there.

The German footballer visited the Grassroot Soccer programme in Soweto, South Africa and participated in a Skillz Street practice session involving about 50 boys and girls.

As a UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador since 2006, Ballack, who retired from active football at the end of last year, witnessed how football is transforming lives in South Africa.

UNAIDS Goodwill ambassador, football player Michael Ballack delivering key
life-skills to young people during his visit to the Grassroot Soccer project.

He said, "They are talking about AIDS or HIV, what it means to get infected, how they can get infected and this connected with some exercises works really, really well and I think they remember really well."

The football star said these young players were very motivated and expressed hope that their energy can be harnessed to bring positive change.

UNAIDS Goodwill ambassador, football player Michael Ballack during his visit
to the Health4Men initiative.

He said, "What I have seen today, it gives me a lot of hope for the future because the youth kids they have the power, they can change it by themselves, but they need help as well. What I have seen they really listen to us, they are really motivated and that makes hope."

Grassroot Soccer uses soccer to educate, inspire and mobilize communities to stop the spread of HIV.

James Donald, Country Director for Grassroot Soccer South Africa, said, "Having someone like Michael Ballack here immediately raises the sort of tone of the event. Children here feel important just because they know there are important people here. Seeing him participate in the same discussions, do the activities, it adds to the legitimacy of what we do."

The young men and women showed their admiration for Ballack, who they see as a role model.

UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador and football star, Michael Ballack witnessed how football is transforming lives in South Africa. On 19 January.

Sihle, GRS Programme Participant, said, "Today I have learned a lot of things from Michael Ballack, that he is not just an ordinary person. He is a person who gives back to people who are needy and who are HIV. You know, that is a great thing to do."

The football legend was joined by UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibe on his tour of the programme. During his visit, Ballack also visited the Health4Men initiative at the Yeoville Clinic in Johannesburg, which caters to men who have sex with men, a key population at higher risk of HIV.

Editor:Zhang Jianfeng |Source: CCTV.com

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