Brothers for Life, the national SANAC endorsed men's campaign, with support from USAID, UNICEF, Manchester United and FC Barcelona, has named a phenomenal squad of national and international sporting talent that are to promote HIV prevention and take a stand against violence against women and children in South and Southern Africa from 1 June.
South African football stars Matthew Booth and Teko Modise, South African rugby captain John Smit, South African cricket captain Graeme Smith, Bulls rugby player Tiger Mangweni, and international football superstars Ryan Giggs (Manchester United), Patrice Evra (Manchester United); Mame Biram Diof (Manchester United); Leo Messi (FC Barcelona), Yaya Toure (FC Barcelona), Thierry Henri (FC Barcelona), and Seydou Keita (FC Barcelona) have all stood up in support of Brothers for Life Sports Ambassadors campaign and taken to heart its slogan, "yenza kahle" (do the right thing).
As part of the Brothers for Life campaign the Sports Ambassadors will promote messages on the risks of alcohol, sex and HIV, promote correct and consistent condom usage; mobilise men to take up counselling and testing in support of President Jacob Zuma's drive to get 16-million people tested for HIV and promote partner reduction through television, radio and outdoor advertising.
Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe says that, "Once again we call upon men of all classes and races to join the fight against HIV and AIDS, occupying the front trenches in this war through their social conduct. When good men don't stand up to be counted HIV and AIDS spreads. When good men are silent when other men brag about committing sexual violence against their partners, HIV and AIDS spreads. Real men speak up and condemn abuse and mistreatment of women and girl-children. There can never be any excuse for remaining silent!"
Says US Ambassador to South Africa Donald Gips: "As the major funder of the Brothers for Life campaign, the US government is very excited to work with some of the best-known names in international sport to promote HIV prevention. These sports leaders set an example and send the messages that men must take responsibility for their own behavior if we are going to stop the scourge of HIV and AIDS. We must defeat HIV and AIDS".
"Men have the power to make an enormous difference in their own lives and in the lives of their children and partners. They must take responsibility, put an end to gender-based violence and participate in HIV prevention efforts. And they have to refrain from risk-taking behavior such as alcohol and drug abuse. The Brothers for Life Sports Ambassadors campaign shows them the way," says Elhadj As Sy, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa.
As part of the campaign, UNICEF has asked some of its high profile partners to get involved, such as football teams FC Barcelona and Manchester United, with whom the child rights organization has long standing relationships. Manchester United launched United for UNICEF in 1999 and has been a strong partner in the UNITE for Children, UNITE against AIDS campaign that was launched in 2005 to put children at the forefront of global efforts to combat the impact of HIV and AIDS. In 2006, FC Barcelona signed a global agreement with UNICEF. Since then, the club has worn the UNICEF logo on its shirt, broadcasting a message about the rights and needs of children as a symbol of the club's values and its solidarity with children. They have also donated a total of Euros 5 million in the past three years and has pledge another 3 million over the next two years, with a significant amount of these funds being used for HIV prevention.
"We are very proud of the results our global alliance with UNICEF is achieving to make a real change in the lives of the most vulnerable children and youth in Africa. The commitment of FC Barcelona with Brothers for Life is a new step forward in our fight against HIV and AIDS," said FCB's President Joan Laporta. "The participation of our most valuable assets, our players, will have a great impact on this campaign for HIV prevention where men have a responsibility on HIV prevention and care for their families ".
Coinciding with the unveiling of the Sports Ambassadors, Brothers for Life is to be rolled out to other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Zambia in partnership with UNICEF, FC Barcelona and local partners.