On the12th of June on the Sapsan Arena Stadium in Moscow the Football for Friendship World Championship took place as part of the Gazprom International Children’s social programme Football for Friendship, official partner of FIFA and the World Cup 2018™.
32 International Teams of Friendship, consisting of young 12-year-old athletes, boys and girls, including children with disabilities, from Europe, Asia, South and North America, Australia and Oceania, met on the football pitch. The Sixth Season of the Football for Friendship programme was marked by an unprecedented expansion of the geography of the project: a year ago representatives of 64 countries took part in the final events, but this year Young Footballers, Young Coaches and Young Journalists from 211 countries and regions of the world met in Moscow!
This season the 32 International Teams of Friendship were named by rare animals on verge of extinction to popularize a protection of the wild nature and increase interest of young generations to preserving the world fauna. The teams were traditionally formed on the friendship principle – the athletes of different nationalities, genders and physical abilities are playing together in each team. For example, in the team called Siberian Tiger have meet the participants from Burkina Faso, East Timor, Syria, Yemen, Morocco and Jordan while the Imperial Woodpecker team consists of young sportsmen from Germany, Belize, Guatemala, Canada, Nicaragua and Slovakia.
Football stars, leaders of the Football Federations, representatives of the Russian Football Union, the Paralympic Committee of Russia as well as social activists, including Aleksandr Kerzhakov, the senior coach of the Junior Russian Team, Syrian footballer Firas Al-Khatib as well as the Prince and the footballer from Saudi Arabia, Alsayyar Abdulrahman. The final games of the Football for Friendship World Championship commented the Young Journalist from Syria Yazn Taha. In total the final events of the Football for Friendship programme were visited by more than 1500 children and their accompanying adults; the event was covered by about 5000 world media.
On the eve of the final tournament of the young participants of the Football for Friendship programme spent three days at the International Friendship Camp on the territory of the Spartak Football Academy, where the sports trainings, lectures and master classes from the famous athletes, journalists and representatives of the reserves of rare species of animals were held. On June 12, the qualifying games of the Football for Friendship World Championship were held at the Sapsan Arena Stadium, the teams of Comodo Dragon and Chimpanzee reached the final. The first team consists of the guys from Wales, Kenya, Dominican Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Philippines and Brazil, the second – from Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Malawi, Colombia, Benin and Congo.
The brilliant victory got the Chimpanzee Team, consisting of Cameron Gregory Phillip (Dominica), Jeronimo Rodriguez Uruena (Colombia), Peter Paulo (Malawi), Yamirou Ouorou (Benin), Deo Kalenga Mwenze (Congo DR), Alex Oneil Junior Daniel (St. Kitts and Nevis) as well as their Young Coach from Russia Vladislav Polyakov (City of Saransk).
Traditionally, all the young participants of the final events of the Football for Friendship programme attend a football match. Last year the children supported the national teams of Chile and Germany at the FIFA Confederations Cup Final, which was held at the new Russian stadium "Saint-Petersburg". This year, the young Ambassadors of Football for Friendship will attend an opening match of the FIFA World Cup, where the teams of Russia and Saudi Arabia meet at the Luzhniki stadium.
"I am glad to participate in the final events of the Sixth Season of the Football for Friendship programme. It's great that children from all over the world are united by such a project: it is important not only for sports development, but also for personal growth. It is nice to see how young talents put their heart and soul into their favorite activities, and that`s amazing that just in 3 days of the Friendship Camp the children have managed to become friends and demonstrated a real team game," said Alexander Alaev, Director General of the Russian Football Union.
"I`ve been supporting the Gazprom International Children’s social programme Football for Friendship for a long time. All the young athletes who took part in the World Championship today are very talented and promising guys. Watching the games of Teams of Friendship, I was really concerned about the teams and I have to say that the final game was brilliant. I'm going to follow further careers of the young sportsmen with great pleasure. I am sure that each of the participant of the programme will be able to achieve outstanding sports results", shared his impressions Alexander Kerzhakov, Head Coach of the Russian Youth Team.
"I am very glad to have come to Moscow this year to take part in the final of the World Championship of the International Football for Friendship programme! Of course, like any football player, I dream about playing with my team at the World Cup, to score a decisive goal and become as famous as Cristiano Ronaldo. But I think that the Football for Friendship World Championship is a great start! The fact that each Team of Friendship includes guys from different countries makes the task of a joint, coordinated game even more interesting. Without Football for Friendship, I would never have made so many new friends from all over the world!" said the Young Ambassador of the Football for Friendship programme Iawiolo Batal (Vanuatu, 12 y.o).
"It was an amazing game! I have been training for a long time in the school club La Dorada Caldas, but I have not experienced such emotions in any of our matches. It's really great that children from different countries take part in the programme! It is great that adult professional athletes support us sincerely, worry about the team. I`m glad that the Football for friendship programme has a nice tradition to tie Friendship Bracelets; it is not just a symbolic gesture, it is really the beginning of a great friendship between the children and adults, because football and friendship have no boundaries," said the Young Ambassador of the Football for Friendship programme Jeronimo Rodriguez Urueña (Colombia, 12 y.o).
The Gazprom International Children’s social programme Football for Friendship has been implemented by the PJSC Gazprom since 2013. The goal of the project is to develop children's football, foster tolerance and respect for various cultures and nationalities among children from different countries. The key values promoted by the programme participants include friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions and honour.
The main event of the project is the annual International Football for Friendship Children’s Forum, which brings together young players from around the world and where they discuss the issues of respecting values around the world with representatives of the media and famous players.
The special award of the Football for friendship project is the Nine Values Cup. This is a unique trophy, awarded annually to one of the professional football clubs for the implementation of social initiatives that embody the values of the project. The winner is chosen by the Young Ambassadors of the project by voting, which takes place in all countries — participants of the Football for friendship programme.
Thousands of participants around the world join the project every year. Since the start of the project, its geography has expanded significantly — from 8 countries in 2013 to 211 countries in 2018. Hundreds of young players become Ambassadors of the Football for Friendship movement and its values in their countries. The symbol of the project is the Friendship Bracelet. It was tied around the wrist to more than 3 million children and adults around the world, including famous athletes, journalists, artists, politicians and presidents of different countries.