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From Our Correspondent in Yaounde

YAOUNDE – The FIFA Foundation this week revealed it had set aside more than US$3,1million in its 2019 budget to financially support 93 non-profit organisations that use football to address social issues impacting youths.

The range of social initiatives supported is very broad, including programmes in the areas of education, health, peace-building, refugees, leadership and gender equality, said the world football controlling body Monday.

One of the organisations, which became the launch-pad of the launch, was Cameroon’s Red Deporte, which delivers social services to refugees affected by the civil conflict in neighbouring Central African Republic, with a focus on gender equality, health and environmental awareness. The project includes football-inspired health education sessions addressing malaria, HIV/AIDS and WASH and the distribution of mosquito nets and basic hygiene supplies to the beneficiaries.

On his visit to the Don Bosco centre in Yaoundé in his native Cameroon, African soccer legend Samuel Eto’o said he had witnessed that football could be a powerful tool to bring hope and teach life skills in underprivileged communities.

“Football is like a school of life. What they can change is their future, and with FIFA and others we will try to support them with advice, I hope that meeting these kids will allow them to have a dream, that they will think that: ‘if our ‘Dad’, our ‘elder’ Samuel has managed to succeed, why can’t we?” said the four-time African Player of the Year, who engaged in a training session with the children in Yaoundé, before he signed the jerseys of each one of the kids present, making it an unforgettable day for the youngsters.

“The power of football is unlimited. All, together, we must use this opportunity to raise more issues and help people feel integrated,” added Eto’o, who also held a training session with the group of young refugees from a programme supported by the FIFA Foundation in his home country.

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