Ms Alison Qualter-Berna from UNICEF’s NY HQ was the honoured guest of Chairman Jorien van den Herik at the Kuip this week. During the meeting, the American underscored the good relations between the UN’s children’s fund and Feyenoord. ‘The world of sport is very important. It appeals to children and is really their language. So in a partnership with a sports team we can reach those children. Feyenoord is a fantastic benchmark for other clubs in Europe.’

UNICEF and Ms Qualter-Berna reiterated that the partnership with Feyenoord is running very satisfactorily. ‘UNICEF has many different responsibilities including education and combating HIV. We are looking for the means to tackle those issues properly,’ declared Qualter-Berna. ‘I would like to say why I feel the partnership with Feyenoord is going so well,’ Alison Qualter-Berna continued. ‘I have spoken with a young boy from the Feyenoord Ghana Football Academy. He told me that he had been to school for a few years, but the teacher had told him that he had to pay money if he wanted to stay on. He went home with the news, but his mother said that she couldn’t afford it. He didn’t want to be thrown out, so he lied at school and said that his mother was on vacation. But in time it came out that it wasn’t so and he was thrown out of school anyway. ‘He wasn’t able to go to school for a few years, until he was given the chance to go to the Feyenoord Ghana Football Academy. He is so happy now. Football is not the most important thing, it means so much more than that. This boy is able to get a good education because of Feyenoord. For Feyenoord it’s not about recruiting footballers, but about giving the children of Ghana a chance.’ Feyenoord is one of a select number of UNICEF partners in the football industry. ‘We only work together with the biggest clubs. In Spain we are continuing with Real Madrid, in England with Manchester United and in Italy with AC Milan. I would very much like to see these clubs organise a tournament together.’ The Rotterdam club is set to publicise its ties with UNICEF in coming months. The UNICEF logo will be given a prominent place on the club’s official letterhead for one. And publicity hoardings are to be introduced around the Kuip pitch and the training field. The first team squad is also scheduled to make the trip to Ghana in August or September to flag up the problems faced by children in that country.
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