Liverpool forward Sadio Mane has teamed up with Liverpool Foundation and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine to launch Malawi HIV awareness project.

The campaign is set to encourage youngsters in the south African country to ‘access education and health services’ designed to help in the fight against the virus.

“It’s an initiative that is close to my heart,” said the Senegal international. “It’s something that I am very happy to do. It’s important to help people.

He adds, “They approached me about the initiative, and it became clear I was maybe the right person to help.

“When the told me about it, I was very, very happy to help out. I’m looking forward to doing my bit.”

As part of the programme, Mane has recorded a special message that will be shown to young males in Malawi demonstrating how they can use a swab test on themselves to check for HIV.

Many young people in the country have low levels of awareness and are therefore more likely to contract it or be living with it unknowingly.

Mane was on hand to help officially launch the new programme – which has been 18 months in the planning – at Anfield Sports and Community Centre, where he attended a training session with coaches from Malawi and the LFC Foundation.

Liverpool forward Sadio Mane poses with members of the LFC Foundation and coaches from Malawi at the launch of the project.

As part of a week-long visit by the Malawi team, Foundation coaches provided essential skills needed to deliver a range of high-quality sports sessions with youngsters back in Malawi.

The LFC Foundation and LSTM will work together to deliver sports-based public engagement activities in Malawi to provide more platforms for young people, particularly the key group of young males aged 14-22 who are least likely to access health education and services such as self-testing and treatment plans.

In Malawi, the number of people living with HIV is one of the highest in the world and young people account for 50% of new infections and incidences are highest among 15 to 17-year-olds.