TNN Jan 4, 2013, 01.57AM IST KOLKATA: In September, Messi pulled the strings in his arsenal and hypnotized the football-crazy city with his sublime skills. Last month, soccer lovers cheered their heart out when Rene Higuita gifted them his “scorpion kick” against Brazil Masters. And now, there is a possibility that the city may witness Christiano Ronaldo’s solo run piercing the opponent’s defence line.
Ronaldo fans have started nurturing the dream after the Portugal soccer star became the global ambassador of Save the Children, an organization that fights for the rights of impoverished children.
“The Real Madrid star is kicking off 2013 as Save the Children’s new artist ambassador. In his new role, Ronaldo will fight child hunger and obesity and promote physical activity and healthy eating,” Save the Children CEO Thomas Chandy said.
“When I learned that one in seven kids around the world goes to bed hungry every night, I jumped at the chance to get involved,” Ronaldo said in a statement issued by the NGO. “It is an honour to join Save the Children. I want to work with them to make sure that fewer parents struggle with putting the right kinds of food on the table. I also want to encourage kids to go out there, get active and get fit. As a dad, I know it is important to give my two-year-old son a healthy life, right from the start, and I want to give all kids that same chance,” said Ronaldo.
Sub-Saharan Africa apart, India should be right up there as a priority for Ronaldo given that nearly 1.69 million children under-five die in the country every year. Of these deaths, more than half take place in the first month of a child’s life or the neo-natal period. Within the neo-natal period, asphyxia (19%), infections (29%) and preterm births (24%) are the major causes of death. Overall, around 11% under-five deaths are caused by diarrhoea and 11% by pneumonia. More than half of infant deaths (54%) take place in the first week of birth. Malnutrition is a major underlying cause of most of the above mentioned reasons and contributes to a third of these deaths.
If Ronaldo does visit India and agrees to play a match to raise funds for the NGO, Kolkata will be a major contender to host the match.
Ronaldo will follow in the footsteps of Save the Children artist ambassadors Jennifer Connelly and Julianne Moore. Shabana Azmi, Parineeti Chopra and Kunal Kapoor are among Save the Children’s champions from India.
“We are delighted to have such an incredible athlete working with us. Many children around the globe look up to Ronaldo as a role model for healthy living and keeping fit,” said Chandy. “Every day a child goes without eating healthy foods, it puts the brakes on his growth and development. We want to reach these children before the hunger signs show up and before they get into the habit of making unhealthy choices.”
Last year, Save the Children reached more than 85 million children in nearly 120 countries with programmes that help them survive and reach their potential. For example, to stem child hunger, Save the Children helps families provide for their children’s basic nutritional needs through better access to healthy food, improved farming practices and opportunities to build their financial security. Save the Children also increases children’s access to physical activity, nutrition education and healthy foods to address the childhood obesity crisis.
In India, Save the Children is already working in 14 states, benefiting newborns, children and pregnant women. Half of India’s children under five are malnourished, placing the nation amongst the bottom three countries, as reported by Save the Children’s Nutrition Barometer. We are also active in responding to all major emergencies in India focussing on health, education, nutrition and protection for children under five and pregnant mothers.