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UN Volunteers present football field to East Timorese foundation

The opening game between Junta Freigueisa Pontinha and JovalaenThe opening game between Junta Freigueisa Pontinha and Jovalaen
21 May 2002

Dili, Timor-Leste: On day two of the newly born Democratic Republic of East Timor and only 10 days before the beginning of the World Cup in South Korea and Japan, the Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteer programme (UNV), Sharon Capeling-Alakija, officially handed over to the East Timorese Don Carlos Foundation the "Nobel de la Paz" football field, a UNV rehabilitation project.

The Don Carlos Foundation takes care of disadvantaged young people, providing them with opportunities to actively participate in sports and cultural events and with education grants. The foundation is named after Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, head of the Catholic church of East Timor and co-winner of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize together with Jose Ramos-Horta, the new nation's Senior Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The field presentation ceremony was also attended by Francisco Kalbuadi, President of East Timor's National Football Federation and Don Carlos Foundation, Francisco Xavier do Amaraz, competitor to Xanana Guzmao in the presidential elections on 14 April. Also present were UN officials, members of the diplomatic community and some 1,000 young people who came to watch the inauguration of their football field.

In his opening remarks, Bishop Belo thanked all United Nations Volunteers for having been "so sympathetic towards the people of East Timor. As a sign of gratitude I will pray for you," he said.

Sharon Capeling-Alakija recognized the efforts of the Don Carlos Foundation to look after children and to promote sports. "Through football you will learn about leadership, strategy and teamwork, and these are key skills in the development of a new nation," she said.

Some 1,000 children and young people and the 16 youth soccer teams of Dili then watched the opening game between two teams with 15-year-old players accompanied by much cheerleading. The team of "Junta Freigueisa Pontinha" defeated "Jovalaen" by a score of 3:0.

United Nations Volunteers have a track record of supporting soccer in East Timor. UNV Ricardo Pacheco of Brazil was in charge of training members of the national football team.

The "Nobel de la Paz" football field is part of the International People's Park and football field (IPP). The park was created by United Nations Volunteers and the football field rehabilitated as part of preparations for independence celebrations on 19 May.

Engineering and landscaping of the park and football field began in early April and was supervised by UNV Binod Paudel from Nepal, a civil engineer who has overseen all activities on the site. UNV Chana Opaskornkul from Thailand prepared the appropriate landscaping. All materials used for the renovation of the International People's Park and Football Field (IPP) were locally made, purchase or provided.

UNV is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)