World Soccer News: Football legend Zinédine Zidane ends Mali visit with anti-poverty call
Football superstar and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Goodwill Ambassador Zinédine Zidane ended a visit to Mali last Friday highlighting new anti-poverty tools put into action across the West African nation.
Zidane visited a group of women who manage a multi-purpose engine that provides the village of Koursalé, 60 kilometres southwest of the capital, Bamako, with an affordable power supply for milling grain, processing rice, and recharging batteries.
“I’ve been able to see for myself how these simple machines can make women’s everyday lives easier, and generate economic and social development that benefits everyone in the community,” said Zidane who also visited a UNDP-supported women-run shea butter factory, and met with students from a school in neighbouring Bancoumana.
“It would be fantastic if every village in Mali could have one of these machines,” he said, noting that more than one thousand villages in Mali are equipped with this technology, reducing the amount of time local women spend on household chores.
The programme has so far reached about 1.5 million people in Mali and approximately three million in West Africa now have better energy access through the engines, some of which now run on biofuels such as the Jatropha vegetable oil.
It focuses on women with low income and minimal access to energy. Only registered women’s associations, with support of village members, can apply for a unit. Once trained, they save an average of between two and six hours daily using the technology.
Improving access to energy for some of the world’s poorest populations is one plank of UNDP’s poverty reduction strategy, which involves supporting governments in drawing up and putting into action policies that break poverty cycles and create opportunities for women.
In Bamako, Zidane also participated in a sports event with 3,000 youth as part of advocacy efforts for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - eight internationally-agreed goals that seek to end extreme poverty by 2015.
Acting UNDP Resident Representative Maurice Dewulf hailed Zidane as a “valuable Ambassador who has teamed up with 13 million Malians with a view to achieving the MDGs.”
Prior to his departure, Zidane met with Mali’s President Amadou Toumani Touré, who acknowledged the football star’s commitment to advocating against poverty.
Background from Wikipedia:
Zinedine Zidane was born on 23 June 1972 and is a retired French footballer. Zidane is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.
Zidane was the iconic figure of a generation of French players that won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship. After a brief international retirement, he returned to the national team in 2005 and captained France to the 2006 World Cup Final where he won the Golden Ball as the tournament's most outstanding player.
At club level Zidane won the La Liga and the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid, two Serie A league championships with Juventus, an Intercontinental Cup, and a UEFA Super Cup each with both aforementioned sides. He is, alongside Brazilian striker Ronaldo, the only three-time FIFA World Player of the Year winner; he also won the Ballon d'Or in 1998. He retired from professional football after the 2006 World Cup.
He currently holds the post of Real Madrid Director of Football, filling the spot previously held by Jorge Valdano.