Soccer Aid for Unicef
Defending Play for Every Child

Defending play with the UK government

Your donations have been matched by the UK government, up to £3 million, meaning double the difference to children’s lives. Thank you.

The funding from the UK government will help make sure more than 80,000 children in Sierra Leone and Zambia can have a childhood full of play. In parts of Sierra Leone and Zambia where poverty and malnutrition unsettle childhoods we’ll support our partners in caring for mums and new babies. We’ll help provide vaccinations so children can spend their time in the playground. And in Zambia we’ll provide preschools-in-a-box and fill them with everything children need for a stimulating playtime. We need your support to make it happen.

In Zambia, thanks to the UK government doubling your donations in 2019, we'll provide 'pre-schools in a box' and fill them with everything children need for a stimulating playtime.

The funding from the UK government will help make sure more than 80,000 kids in Sierra Leone and Zambia can have a childhood full of play

Photo: Unicef/Dawe

By the time children are three, 80% of their brain has grown. Playing is a vital part of their healthy development.

The power of play

Childhood play is the stuff memories are made of. It’s the joy of a carefree childhood. A living room scattered with toys. A cry of ‘can we have our ball back please?’ It’s the type of childhood every child should have. But around the world, disease, conflict, hunger and poverty are disrupting play for millions of children.

Playing isn’t just about having fun. It’s a vital part of early development that can have a major impact on children’s lives. Just 15 minutes of play can spark thousands of connections in a baby’s brain. And playing before they’re old enough for school has a proven impact on performance when they get there.

Play matters. It’s about every child being able to fulfil their potential. It makes us who we are. And if children aren’t able to play, their potential starts slipping away. We won’t let that happen.

With your help, even more children can have a chance to play

Thanks to Soccer Aid and the UK government doubling your donations Adoum is coming out to play

In Chad, two-year-old Adoum was severely malnourished when his parents' crops failed and they couldn't afford to buy food.

Thanks to Soccer Aid for Unicef the therapeutic feeding centre was able to provide treatment and follow up monitoring to Adoum, who successfully recovered.

In addition to being given a mosquito net and soap, his mother Zenaba learned simple things she could do to prevent Adoum getting malnourished again.

Photo: All photos: Unicef/Asselin


Since 2012 Soccer Aid for Unicef has received more than £25 million from the UK government

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Thanks to projects funded by Soccer Aid and the UK government…



in some of the world's poorest countries have improved health and nutrition


Pregnant women

have been supported with antenatal and nutritional care in Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Liberia

Surprise’s story

Sibongile and her husband Sifiso endured years of pain before their son, Surprise, was born in 2017. Sibongile’s first two children were stillborn, and she was full of fear as the months of her third pregnancy passed. Now she beams as she describes how 18-month-old Surprise “has really followed after his name”.

Sibongile and Sifiso are both HIV positive, but Surprise was born free of HIV. Not only did he survive, but thanks to support provided by Unicef, Sibongile was able to breastfeed her son without passing on the virus.

Today, Surprise entertains his family by kicking homemade footballs around their huts in the western region of Eswatini (which used to be known as Swaziland). Sibongile and Sifiso can hardly stop smiling as they discuss how much their son means to them. “He has grown into a healthy boy and I am very, very happy,” Sibongile laughs, before Sifiso adds: “When I found out he was HIV negative I was jumping up and down to celebrate.”

Thanks to the support of initiatives like Soccer Aid for Unicef, Surprise and Sibongile both get the healthcare they need to stay healthy and thrive
Photo: Unicef/Matas19

With your help, even more children can have a chance to play