Former Taifa Stars goalkeeper calls upon fathers to play an effective role in parenting during their children’s early years.
UNICEF Tanzania celebrated Father’s Day with renowned footballer and former Taifa Stars goalkeeper, Ivo Mapunda, who called on fathers to step up their game in parenting, especially in the early years of their children’s lives.
UNICEF celebrity supporter and father-of-four, Mapunda, shared a video message for all Tanzanian fathers – urging them to be more involved in their children’s lives, especially in the early years.
Evidence suggests that when fathers bond with their babies from the beginning of life, they are more likely to play a more active role in their child’s development. Research also suggests that when children positively interact with their fathers, they have better psychological health, self-esteem and life-satisfaction in the long-term.
Advances in neuroscience have proven that when children spend their earliest years – particularly the first 1,000 days – in a nurturing and stimulating environment, new neural connections form at an optimal speed. These neural connections help determine a child’s cognitive ability, how they learn and think, their ability to deal with stress, and can even influence how much they will earn as adults.
“I read to my two-year-old every day, and encourage her to ask questions. And I play football with my older three on a daily basis. It’s our time to bond, and talk. On Father’s Day, I would like to encourage all dads to make sure they don’t miss out on this precious phase of their children’s lives. I am very happy to collaborate with UNICEF on this day,” said Mapunda. UNICEF is using Father’s Day to renew its call to break down cultural and financial barriers preventing fathers from spending quality time with their young children.
In Tanzania, UNICEF’s partners, including faith leaders, media and celebrities, are promoting messages on positive parenting, in particular the role of fathers and males, as a pivotal aspect of Early Childhood Development (ECD). UNICEF’s online partner, Elimika Wikiendi, will be running an online campaign on positive parenting and raising awareness around ECD issues. The platform will also engage users on the role that they can play to ensure young children are nurtured and cared for, so as to maximize their future well-being.
“I wish I had known before I became a father that stimulating young babies helps in their brain development. But to all the new fathers, I appeal, interact with your baby – it not only promotes their well-being, but jumpstarts brain development and boosts their learning ability,” said Mapunda, who runs a sports centre that identifies and nurtures young talent in football. The centre has 160 children enrolled between 5 and 20 years.
According to a UNICEF analysis released today as part of Father’s Day commemoration, almost two-thirds of the world’s children under 1 year– nearly 90 million – live in countries where their fathers are not entitled by law to a single day of paid paternity leave. Ninety-two countries do not have national policies in place that ensure new fathers get adequate paid time off with their newborn babies, including India and Nigeria – which all have high infant populations.
“Let’s use this day, and every day, to support and encourage fathers to get more involved in their children’s lives, especially in the early years. This is a time of rapid growth, brain development and curiosity in children. By doing simple things like giving children proper nutrition, lots of love, keeping them safe and spending time playing with them, parents can make a huge difference and set children up for a bright future,” said UNICEF Tanzania Representative, Maniza Zaman.
Father’s Day is celebrated in more than 90 countries in the month of June. This year, UNICEF is calling upon fathers to post photos and videos on digital platforms and share their #SuperDad moment with their children and share a parenting tip. In Tanzania, UNICEF is running an online campaign till end of the month, encouraging fathers to share their photos and parenting tips, and engaging them in discussions on their role.