Brazilian soccer star Kaká, whose astonishing performances at the age of 22 helped AC Milan win Italy's national championship last season, was appointed as the United Nations World Food Programme's youngest Ambassador Against Hunger on Tuesday.
Kaká, who was also a member of Brazil's 2002 World Cup winning squad in South Korea/Japan, will use his profile as a successful international sportsman to help put the floodlights on global hunger.
"It's a real honour to help the WFP team rid the world of hunger," said Kaká at a press conference in Milan's San Siro stadium."I owe a lot to soccer. Now I'd like give something backand bring hope to hungry kids less fortunate than myself."
Working with WFP will not be the first time that the Brazilian international has come face-to-face with hunger. As junior player honing his skills at Sao Paolo Futebole Clube's celebrated soccer academy, the young Kaká grew-up with poor, undernourished children from the city's urban slums - each one dreaming of escaping poverty through soccer.
As the world's biggest food aid agency, WFP is playing a leading role in meeting the first United Nations' Millennium Development Goal for the 21st century: halving the proportion of hungry people around the world by 2015. Brazil --Kaká's native country -- is also at the forefront of a global campaign to put the fight against hunger at the top of the international agenda.
Hunger and malnutrition claim more than 10 million lives each year - more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. It also stops millions of children growing to their full potential. Eradicating hunger is therefore key to global development.
"Soccer players are natural ambassadors. Their sport is the most popular in the world, crossing borders and uniting cultures. By visiting our projects and operations, Kaká can use his fame and talent to advocate a better future for the world's 800 million chronically hungry,"said John Powell, Deputy Executive Directorof WFP's Fundraising and Communications Department, who officially appointed Kaká as an ‘Ambassador Against Hunger'.
The Brazilian international has already asked WFP to organise a field visit to war-torn Angola, where the agency's projects are helping over one million former soldiers, internally displaced persons and refugees rebuild their lives and their country.
"I hope my own experience with Sao Paolo and AC Milan can inspire hungry children to believe they can overcome the odds and lead a normal life," saidKaká.
When Kaká left his native Sao Paolo in July 2003 to join Italian giants AC Milan in Serie A, one of the world's most competitive championships, few people outside of his native Brazil had heard of the promising young soccer talent.
Over the next 12 months, however, Kaká inspired Milan to the Serie A title. In 30 league matches, he scored 10 goals and orchestrated his side's midfield with a skill that belied his youth and brought comparisons with all-time great Michel Platini of France.
Kaká is the youngest among several international sports stars who are donating their time and celebrity status to help WFP defeat global hunger.Other sportsmen supporting the agency include the world's fastest man over 26 miles, marathon record holder Paul Tergat of Kenya, cricket's record breaking wicket-taker Muttiah Muralitharan from Sri Lanka and former Rugby World Cup winning captains Nick Farr-Jones and David Kirk.
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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: in 2003 we gave food aid to a record 104 million people in 81 countries, including 56 million hungrychildren.
WFP Global School Feeding Campaign For just 19 US cents a day, you can help WFP give children in poor countries a healthy meal at school --a gift of hope for a brighter future.
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