Ex-Eagles Play Novelty Match For HIV/AIDS Awareness

.(L-R) National Convener 2015 Nigerian Red Ribbon Coalition and Community Affairs Manager, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Emeka Mba; Ex-International Victor Agali; Executive Secretary, Youth Empowerment Foundation, Iwalola Akin-Jimoh; Director, Public Affairs & Communication, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Clem Ugorji; Ex-Super Eagles player, Ifeanyi Udeze and HIV/AIDS Specialist, Society for Family Health Lagos (SFH), Emmanuel Olaoti; during the World AIDS Day Novelty Football Match organized by the Nigerian Red Ribbon Coalition in Lagos recently. –

As part of plans to provide over 7500 persons across Nigeria with free HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) as well as reach over 3.5 million people with Information, Education and Communication (IEC), the Nigeria Red Ribbon Coalition, an alliance of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) and private sector partners organised a Celebrity Novelty Football match last weekend to commemorate this year’s world AIDS Day.

The HIV/AIDS awareness Novelty match was one of the headline events of the week-long outreach, held at the University of Lagos, (UNILAG) Sports Complex, Akoka, Lagos on Saturday, 5 December, 2015.

A crowd of soccer enthusiasts and stakeholders converged on the sports complex to witness the match.

The match offered an opportunity for people within the Yaba community in Lagos to access free HCT, as well as receive up-to-date information about HIV/AIDS in a friendly environment.

The match was between Team Ex-Super Eagles which featured former Nigeria football exports like Ifeanyi Udeze, Taiwo Enegwa, Victor Agali and Abdul Issa; Team Corporate, which included the staff of Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, YEDI, and NEPLWAIDS. Team Ex-Super Eagles won by a lone goal.

Speaking at the event, the Director of Public Affairs and Communications, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Clem Ugorji, reiterated the company’s commitment to sustainable development of the communities in which they operate.

Ugorji said that, “We are one of the front-line companies that, over the past 10 years have invested significantly in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The essence of this program is to create awareness and more importantly, educate on how infected patients can manage themselves. It is an all-inclusive program which entails awareness, testing, counselling and continuous follow up treatment, if needed.”

Speaking further on the partnership, the convener of the coalition, Emeka Mba, who is also the Community Affairs Manager, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, stated that “the fight against HIV/AIDS was a fight by all and that any victory was a victory for all”.

“The novelty match is designed as a public endorsement of the campaign against stigmatization.” The objective of the game is to foster a sense of social inclusion with the People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA)” he said.

Commenting on his involvement, Ex-footballer, Taiwo Enegwea who participated for the third time in a HIV-related novelty match, noted that it was his way of contributing his quota as the world moved toward the eradication of the disease as well as the stigma.

Enegwea said; “I am participating out of my goodwill. This is my way of encouraging those living with HIV/AIDS that it is not the end of the world and they are not outcasts in the society. People should also educate themselves on the disease and should not stigmatize any HIV/AIDS victim.”

On her part, the Executive Director of YEDI, Anu Ishola, who was represented by Mr. Philip Obialor advised stakeholders to fight the disease together in other to play out this year’s World AIDS Day theme, ‘Getting to Zero.’

While thanking Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited and MACAIDS Fund for funding the coalition, Ishola praised the professionalism, sacrifice and dedication brought to bear by members of the coalition.

Founded some months ago, the coalition comprises three NGOs namely, Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative (YEDI), Youth Empowerment Foundation (YEF) and Society for Family Health (SFH); private partners like Owu Sportswear, Nigeria Business Coalition Against AIDS (NIBUCAA), the media, among others.

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