May 6 2010

Luís Figo visits SOS Children's Villages Jordan

30/04/2010 - Luís Figo, the Portuguese football icon and WHO Goodwill Ambassador against Tuberculosis, visited the SOS Children’s Village Amman, Jordan, to urge young people to "Run with me to stop TB".

SOS Archives
Luís Figo tells the children of the SOS Children's Village Amman about the dangers of TB - Photo: SOS Archives

To anyone who has even heard about a certain game called football, Luís Figo needs no introduction. The legendary Portuguese star who recently retired from Inter Milano after a career studded with awards and victories, has now teamed up with Dr. Jorge Sampaio, former President of Portugal and the WHO's Secretary General’s Special Envoy to Stop TB, and with the Jordanian actress Rania Ismael to pursue his fight against Tuberculosis, a serious public health and development concern in many countries of the Mediterranean region.





SOS Archives
Luís Figo took plenty of time for pictures with the children - Photo: SOS Archives

During his visit, he read from a comic book entitled “Luís Figo and the World Tuberculosis Cup”, a comic book where Figo’s team consists of teen-aged girls and boys. Together, they win a match against a team of tuberculosis germs. The story points out how serious the TB disease is and how to avoid it, using children's language to better develop awareness. The former footballer discussed the lessons of the story at length with the children, admired the drawings they had made to show their understanding of the disease, and even found plenty of time to sign hundreds of caps, balls, shirts and several copies of the book, both in English and Arabic.





SOS Archives
The children made drawings with TB as the central theme - Photo: SOS Archives

When asked about his motivation for picking up the fight against TB, Figo replied "Football has always been my passion, but I have another that is no less intense. I dream of a world where all people have the opportunity to be healthy and improve their quality of life. I dream of an even playing field for women, men and children everywhere". Asked whether he could change something about the way tuberculosis is dealt with, he says "Short of eliminating it, I would either alleviate the suffering of children and mothers – who have crucial social roles to play - or I would eliminate co-infection with other diseases".

SOS Archives
The comic book "“Luís Figo and the World Tuberculosis Cup” is available in 8 languages - Photo: SOS Archives

Luís Figo was appointed ambassador for the Stop TB Partnership, a World Health Organisation initiative, on 17 March 2008, which has been declared World Tuberculosis Day. Several years previously, in 2003, he founded the Luís Figo Foundation, which strives to help enhance living conditions and opportunities for disadvantaged children and young adults, helping them to develop their potential through sports. He is also a board member and ambassador of the Inter Campus charity project run by Inter Milano. In his native country, Portugal, and in Europe, Figo is considered amongst the greatest players of all times. He was the 2000 European Footballer of the Year and the 2001 FIFA World Player of the World.

Tuberculosis kills almost 45,000 people every single day throughout the world, and there are about 9 million new cases of tuberculosis each year, most often striking adults in their prime and imposing a heavy cost on families. Children are vulnerable to tuberculosis as well and the disease often means they can not attend school, thus limiting their future.