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Gabrielle Dunlevy
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UNSW Football United and the Myanmar Red Cross Society have agreed to expand Football United activities to every university community in Myanmar that wishes to engage.

The Football United sport for social change program will contribute to building the capacity of the emerging nation to promote social inclusion and youth and community development.

Football United programs engage participants through regular football activities for children in disadvantaged communities, integrating life and leadership skills across all activities.

With support from a UNSW grant, Football United started working in Myanmar in 2013 and has been steadily growing since.

The Football for Youth and Community Development program launched this week teams Football United and Myanmar Red Cross Society to strengthen the capacity of Myanmar Red Cross university branches.

Myanmar Red Cross will introduce this initiative to its more than 100 university Red Cross branches and support them to lead the program.

“The program uses social power of football to address Red Cross youth leadership development, building capacity and strengthening engagement of university Red Cross branches in Myanmar Red Cross mainstream programs in the area of community resilience, disaster risk reduction and health promotion,” Professor Dr Daw Mya Thu, President of Myanmar Red Cross Society said.

Dr Tun Aung Shwe, who has led the program’s development in Myanmar since 2013, said it was about much more than football.

“It is about healthy and friendly environment for positive youth development, an engagement platform between universities and community, an innovative learning space for university students who are trying to equip themselves to challenge 21st century’s demands,” he said.

Dr Anne Bunde-Birouste, founder of Football United at UNSW, said she was delighted Myanmar Red Cross Society was one of the international organisations Football United was expanding with.

“The program will be designed to meet the needs of local community, including gender empowerment, social cohesion and peace building, and life skills for positive youth development,” she said.

Football United is an initiative of UNSW School of Public Health and Community Medicine, established in 2006 with aim of providing leadership and management opportunities to young people using social power of football.