Youths on their minds

When Robin van Persie signed for Manchester United last year, he said the "little boy within" guided his decision to switch from Arsenal.

Referring loosely to the Dutch striker's comment, the club's Asia Pacific managing director, Jamie Reigle, said on Monday: "If United have the power to motivate a guy like van Persie, we are very confident we can help motivate youth and children of South-east Asia to go out and play football."

The goal of encouraging children in the region to adopt a healthier lifestyle through football will be realised next year through a programme undertaken by the Manchester United Football Schools.

Based on the common desire to promote football among the young, the Red Devils signed a three-year sponsorship deal with Unilever on Monday at the latter's offices at the Mapletree Business City.

This is the first time the global giants in food, home and personal care products have undertaken a partnership that spans nine countries in South-east Asia - Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

With the company becoming the club's official personal care and laundry partners in the region, products such as Clear and Rexona will carry the Manchester United crest.

Peter ter Kulve, Unilever's president for South-east Asia and Australasia, pointed out that the partnership will also help both parties reach out to more people in the region, while allowing Unilever to grow its male grooming market.

He added: "We believe that stimulating kids to do more sports is not only good for their bodies, it's also very good for their mental development.

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