The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and FIFA launched the #BeActive videos featuring Philippine Men’s National Team goalkeeper Neil Etheridge and Philippine Women’s National Team goalkeeper Inna Palacios as part of a joint campaign encouraging ASEAN citizens to lead a healthy and active lifestyle amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are diverse, but if we stick together, we are stronger. Be active today, tomorrow and always!” is the key message delivered by both Etheridge and Palacios, together with other football personalities in the ASEAN region. The campaign consists of a series of videos to deliver messages to raise awareness of three themes: Physical Fitness, Sanitation and Hygiene, as well as Mental Health and Well-Being.
“The ASEAN sports sector is currently focusing, among others, on strengthening the contribution of sports to ASEAN community-building. During this pandemic, it is important for us to work hand in hand with our key partners. We are pleased to collaborate with FIFA in this campaign to leverage the role of sports in social development,” said Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William Ramirez, in his capacity as the Chair of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Sports.
The campaign is the first initiative between ASEAN and FIFA since signing an agreement in November 2019 to implement joint activities. The priority areas in the agreement include promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, FIFA’s Football for Schools Programme, and professional capacity-building in relation to safety and security at football matches, all of which require effective multi-stakeholder cooperation. Hence, the cooperation will be carried out through ASEAN’s Senior Officials Meeting on Sports (SOMS).
“Football and sports in general have the power to bring people together through a shared interest, promoting an active lifestyle and bringing ASEAN together as one community. They are instrumental in enhancing camaraderie amongst the youth who are the future of our ASEAN community,” said ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi. “The campaign will raise awareness amongst football fans and our larger community on the importance of leading healthy and active lifestyles.”
“More than ever, especially now, one thing must be clear to everyone, health comes first,” stressed FIFA President Gianni Infantino. “FIFA is pleased to join forces with ASEAN and the WHO in order to raise awareness of the need to stay active and to continue to follow WHO guidance concerning hygiene and social distancing in the face of the on-going coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 poses multi-faceted challenges to our societies, but due to our partnerships with ASEAN and the WHO we are encouraged that the football community can also play an active role in ensuring these important messages are promoted in the ASEAN region and globally. For the first time ever, we are all on the same team and together, with team spirit and positive energy, we will win.”
The videos were produced through close collaboration between FIFA and its Member Associations. The key messages were developed in consultation with ASEAN’s Senior Officials Meeting on Sports (SOMS), a regional body consisting of national agencies responsible for sports, and the World Health Organization (WHO).
“People and governments must remain vigilant in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and keep adapting to the new realities the virus has imposed on us,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “This means continuing to find ways to stay healthy, from preventing virus transmission to helping communities lead healthier lifestyles. We must implement policies and practices that enable people to make healthy choices.”
This campaign supports the implementation of the ASEAN Work Plan on Sports 2016-2020, particularly in promoting healthy and active lifestyles and engaging sports ambassadors to encourage the growth of the sports sector in the region.
PFF officials praised FIFA and ASEAN in their promotion of a healthy and active lifestyle throughout the region.
“The joint efforts of both FIFA and ASEAN in promoting wellness in this time of pandemic is crucial to the health and lifestyle of an individual,” said PFF president Mariano Araneta, Jr. “The ASEAN football community is one with the world in ensuring the wellness of everyone.”
“Football brings people from all corners together,” added PFF general secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes. “We thank FIFA and ASEAN in spearheading the efforts in combating the effects caused by this pandemic.”
Guided by the ASEAN sports ministers and in line with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Kazan Action Plan on sport policy development, the ASEAN sports sector will focus on promoting Sport for Development and Peace and other key programmes in the next five years.
ASEAN comprises the ten member states of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, which has a combined population of 630 million and legions of football fans.