Disadvantaged children play game wearing jerseys of Brazil, Argentina

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DHAKA, Jul 5 (BSS/UNICEF FEATURE)- When the whole world is suffering from World Cup fever, the underprivileged children here can hardly think of getting entertainment from the ongoing FIFA World Cup. Most of them, particularly the slum and street children, have no scope to watch football matches on television as they have to remain busy for earning their bread.

Although all children have equal rights to civic amenities, the poor children are being deprived of those. But, an international development organisation has created a scope for a number of underprivileged children to enjoy the World Cup pleasure.

Save the Children with support from its partner MSS arranged a football match for slum children in city’s Rayerbazar today in the presence of some celebrities.

Young supporters of Argentina living in the slums of Rayerbazar got the opportunity to play against the supporters of arch-rival Brazil.

Although two rival teams Brazil and Argentina did not play against each-other in the current FIFA World Cup in Russia, the disadvantaged children played a very competitive football match wearing jerseys of their respective favorite teams.

Brazil supporters defeated the supporters of Argentina by 5-4 in tiebreaker on a ground of Rayerbazar in the capital.

Sohel (15), who captained Brazil team in the match, said it was a wonderful occasion for them as they got an opportunity to play wearing the jerseys of the teams they supported in the World Cup.

“We are being deprived in various ways…but the match we played today made us happy as we cannot watch football matches of World Cup for lack of television sets,” he said.

“Save the Children not only provides integrated education and health services in our slums, but also facilitates children’s participation through sporting activity. However, there are very few sporting opportunities for children in the locality. We want playgrounds exclusively for children,” Sohel said.

Playing is a critical and intrinsic part of healthy human life and development and a child’s ability to exercise the right to play should not be dependent on the environmental conditions where that child lives or the family they were born to.

Children living in slums have limited opportunities to play although Bangladesh is an earliest signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Children (CRC). The CRC explicitly speaks of children’s right to relax and play.

Samina Chowdhury, one of the most successful and compelling musicians, and popular actor Iresh Zaker were present during the match to encourage the children of disadvantaged community. Iresh also shared a video message on the occasion of this match dedicated for children.

“I am amazed by the enthusiasm of these young players. I cancelled my show this morning to encourage the disadvantaged children. If these children are provided an opportunity, they will certainly make a difference” Samina said after watching the match.

Former coach of Bangladesh football team Maruful Haque and former member of national football team Saiful Bari Titu were also present on the occasion. Sports commentator Chowdhury Jafar Ullah Sharafat, who is known for his enthralling voice, entertained the audience with his brief commentary.

Save the Children along with MSS is providing integrated support for children and families living in Rayerbazar slum. Under Shishuder Jonno programme, it had been possible to reach 28,000 people last year through education, health and nutritional support.

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