Recently, on the blog, it was highlighted that the former football player, David Beckham, has launched a new campaign to tackle malaria. This made me think, what else has been done for malaria in the world of football?
First we shall start with, arguably, the most charitable club: FC Barcelona. They are sponsored by UNICEF and have previously tried to solve the Palestinian-Isreali Problem. However, the most decorated football team has also stood against malaria. In 2008, Barcelona started the kick it to malaria initiative, in partnership with Malaria No More and AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organisation). This raised awareness of the disease and proved that Barcelona is “més un club.”
Next, we shall move on to the player that stopped a war: Didier Drogba. In 2010, whilst on holiday Drogba was bitten by a mosquito. When he came back to London, he complained that he had a fever and that he didn’t want to play the full match against Liverpool. After the match, he had a blood test and it was revealed to him that he had Malaria. This raised awareness for the tropical disease and footballers across Europe an the world showed support.
Finally, we will feature the initiative that Drogba joined in 2013: United Against Malaria. Roll Back Malaria (RBM), Malaria No More, the Johns Hopkins University Centre for Communications Programs, and Speak Up Africa are all partnered with United Against Malaria. Football icons like Didier Drogba (Cote d’Ivoire), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon), Gervinho (Cote d’Ivoire) and the Ayew brothers (Ghana) have all lent their influence to the effort and joined forces with UAM. This lead to billboards being erected in 16 countries and 23,000 radio and TV stations in 34 pan-African and national channels broadcast the message, reaching an estimated 1 billion viewers with life-saving messages during the Africa Cup of Nations in January 2013.
In this article, we highlighted a few of the initiative’s that have helped fight malaria. The list of programs in the football world aiming to fight malaria is growing. These programs, initiatives and partnerships are incredibly beneficial because footballers are seen as heroes to their nation and they play a massive role in eradicating malaria.