Japanese Soccer Ace Highlights School Feeding Prog
Japanese Soccer Ace Highlights UN School Feeding Programme in Cambodia
New York, Dec 14 2006 5:00PM
The recently retired Japanese soccer player Hidetoshi Nakata has joined forces with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to spotlight the agency’s free meal operations for schoolchildren in Cambodia, which is plagued by some of the lowest literacy rates in Asia.
Last week Mr. Nakata donated soccer balls to local children while visiting a primary school in the Cambodian town of Siem Reap, where the WFP provides hot breakfasts to 830 students.
“These soccer balls and WFP’s breakfast programme will make this school even more attractive for children to continue their education,” said Thomas J. Keusters, WFP Country Director for Cambodia.
“I hope that one day there will be a Cambodian Nakata who will reach international fame thanks to our school feeding programme.”
Less than half of all students – or just 45 per cent – complete primary school in Cambodia, where many children drop out because they have to work to support their families, help with household chores or care for sick or elderly relatives.
WFP’s school feeding programme in the South-East Asian country reaches about 600,000 children at more than 1,500 schools, but a lack of donations recently means that since October the agency has had to cut the amounts of food it hands out.
Mr. Nakata, who retired after this year’s World Cup in Germany, played soccer at the top international level for a decade.