Two of the UK’s top sporting heroes England international footballer, David Beckham, and Britain’s top tennis player, Andy Murray, took centre stage at Wembley Stadium, to mark the launch of Malaria No More UK – a not-for-profit organisation, committed to ending suffering and death caused by malaria, a preventable disease. The event took place on the same day as their meeting with Prime Minister Gordon Brown at No. 10 Downing Street.
Malaria threatens half of the world’s population and those most vulnerable are pregnant women and children. In Africa, malaria kills one child every 30 seconds; it kills more children under five than any other single disease.
But malaria is preventable and treatable. One of the most effective means of stopping suffering and death from malaria is to invest in preventative measures now. Blanketing Africa with mosquito nets is one of the most simple and effective ways to help prevent the spread of malaria and yields life-saving results. In recent years countries such as Rwanda, Ethiopia and Eritrea have successfully used bed nets, insecticides and access to medicines to cut malaria deaths by over 50%.
Beckham and Murray are members of the Malaria No More UK Leadership Council and played against one another at the world famous Wembley Stadium for a-once-in-a-lifetime sporting moment . They played football tennis, normal tennis, and ‘keepie uppies’ with footballs and tennis balls over the world’s longest tennis net spanning 68 metres, produced out of blue mosquito net fabric. They moved onto football and took turns to take free kicks into the first ever blue mosquito goal net. While Andy passed on a few tennis tips to David, David let Andy into a few secrets on how to take the perfect free kick. The games symbolised the urgent need for bed nets for those who die from malaria.
Together these two sporting heroes are campaigning to raise awareness about malaria, starting with the simple message that for just £5 a bed net can be bought, transported and delivered to a family in Africa, so protecting a mother and child or brother and sister against malaria for up to five years. The ultimate goal: to ensure all those at risk of malaria in Africa have access to a bed net by the end of 2010.
David Beckham says: “By creating awareness we can really make a difference. Days like today are so important. It’s a real honour and a privilege for both Andy and me to get behind Malaria No More. When I went over to Sierra Leone as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, I saw the devastation that many diseases cause, but malaria is the biggest single killer for children under five. The statistics are really frightening.”
For more information visit www.malarianomore.org.uk