UN, Nike, MercyC bring 50,000 footballs to Aceh

“I want to be a great striker one day,” said 14-year-old Andi, while playing football with his friends and coach at the Early Age Football Club in Lhoong Raya stadium, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Andi joined the football club three years ago, but was forced to stop playing when the 2004 tsunami destroyed his home and his daily routines. But UNDP, in partnership with Nike and MercyCorps Canada, is ensuring 2007 gets off to a sporty start for youngsters like Andi, following its donation of 50,000 footballs across Indonesia's western-most province. The donation is a way to help reduce the trauma experienced by the disaster, and revive Aceh’s football spirit post tsunami. Football clubs, schools, universities and Islamic Boarding Schools (Dayah) in 21 districts in Aceh will benefit from the donation.

“Youth empowerment is a crucial element in post-disaster rehabilitation work. Following the tsunami, sports and recreational facilities were destroyed or left unattended. This Rp 6.5 billion project is the donors’ largest donation to Aceh compared with other tsunami-affected countries. The footballs have been sent from England and Holland, and they are of excellent quality,” UNDP Livelihoods Program Officer, Said Fauzan Baabud, said.

In Banda Aceh municipality, 2,750 footballs were distributed to 267 football clubs and schools. These were handed over during January by Simon Field, UNDP Team Leader. “Sports development is an integral part of the UNDP Livelihoods program to enable communities to return to everyday life,” he explained. “The football distribution complements our other activities in rehabilitating Aceh’s sporting facilities.”

Distribution of the 50,000 footballs is supported by the Aceh Youth and Sport Department, and directly monitored by UNDP staff. Besides the football donation, 13,600 Nike football boots have also been donated and distributed through UNDP to 570 football clubs, football schools and football village teams throughout Aceh Province. As part of its Livelihoods program, UNDP reported it has also has rehabilitated 89 sports facilities in 79 villages and 48 sub districts in 12 tsunami-affected districts throughout Aceh Province. This includes 35 volleyball courts, 11 football fields and one basketball court.