Beckham visit another coup

Editorial, Normal

The National, Tuesday October 27th, 2015

 ONE of the world’s most recognisable sports man in former England captain and Manchester United star David Beckham is headed to Papua New Guinea.  

The 40-year-old will lend his star power to a worthy cause dedicated to helping children in mostly third world countries over come such hardships as malnutrition, disease and poverty.

This country has been chosen to be part of Beckham’s “For the Love of the Games” tour which will be a challenging journey by the United Nations Children’s Fund Goodwill Ambassador, who has made it a habit over the years of trekking to the farthest reaches  of the world and to its least developed areas of to spread a message of hope and joy through his sport, soccer.

According to UNICEF’s local office in Port Moresby information on Beckham’s visit is being kept under tight wraps mainly for security reasons but the mere fact that a global sporting super star has decided to visit PNG is a great opportunity for promoting the plight of the country’s young people – the children – and shining the spot light on a nation of seven million plus people.

In the British media, the tour is being treated like a great humanitarian expedition by a darling of the UK press described in adventurous tones:  “The new BBC film ‘Beckham: For the love of the game’ will start in humble communities playing with youngsters.

It will end where it all began for the former England captain at Old Trafford, where he plays his final game with a host of internationally renowned footballing legends who he played for and against in his illustrious career. 

According to the BBC, he will journey into the heart of countries travelling through difficult and sometimes dangerous terrains to get to the pitches. 

Locations include the villages of Papua New Guinea, the foothills of Nepal, the streets of Buenos Aires, the desert plains of Djibouti and the elevated pitches of Miami.”

With PNG seen as an exotic part of the world it is no wonder Beckham come sometime in the coming month or two to share his passion for the world game with the children of PNG and at the same time pass on some important messages.

Following his retirement from a glittering 20 year career, he marked his 10th year as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador by launching 7: The David Beckham UNICEF Fund in February this year. 

The fund aims to help protect millions of children around the world from danger and create lasting positive change.

It is his personal commitment to use his powerful global voice, influence and connections to raise vital funds and advocate for change for children across every region of the world and in every aspect of UNICEF’s work for children. 

Last month Beckham joined United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake, and two young people from UNICEF Voices of Youth initiative to unveil a unique digital installation bringing the voices of children and young people to the heart of the United Nations General Assembly, as the UN prepared to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals.

The installation, Assembly of Youth, harnesses mobile technology (via U-Report) and social media to deliver personal messages from children and young people across the globe directly to world leaders.

The messages highlight the challenges they face in their homes and communities – and express their hopes for the future. 

Following his recent trip to Cambodia, where he met with victims of child violence and abuse, Beckham urged world leaders to listen to these messages – and to take action – to transform the lives of millions of children by putting the most disadvantaged children and young people at the centre of all decisions and investments in the new 15-year development agenda.

Over the years, PNG has been visited by a number of celebrities from the sports and entertainment industry to run programmes, promote causes and entertain the masses but few have come with a progressive agenda in mind and heart to help build positive attitudes and instill hope among a select segment of the population.

This country may be a rugby league-mad land but for a day or two it will be a land were the round ball holds court, when Beckham and the rest of the world has a look at what PNG is about and can offer.