India: Gazprom, official partner of FIFA and the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, announced the opening of the Sixth Season of the Football for Friendship (F4F) International Children’s Social Project. The project has been launched in India for the second time. The goal of the programme is to involve the young generation throughout the world in promoting the most important human values among their peers – friendship, equality, peace and respect for different cultures and nationalities.
The Football for Friendship (F4F) Open Draw was held in Moscow. The program has expanded from 64 countries in 2017 to 211 countries and regions in 2018. 32 International Teams of Friendship were formed during the Open Draw, as well as playing roles for each Young Player from each country (goalkeeper, defender, midfielder or forward) were determined. These 32 teams will compete at the Football for Friendship World Championship on 12 June 2018. As per the Open Draw, India will play a “defender” in its International Team of Friendship. The final events of the season will be held in Moscow, Russia from 8-15 June 2018.
The teams are organized using the “football for friendship” principle – athletes of different nationalities, different genders and different physical abilities will play in one team. Age of players is 12. Each International mixed Team of Friendship will be trained by Young Coaches – football players of 14-16 year olds from different countries. More than 5000 media from around the world will cover the programme events, as well as the F4F International Children’s Press Center, consisting of young 12-year-old journalists from 211 countries and regions. National selections of participants who will become Young Ambassadors of peace, friendship and equality in their countries have started all over the world.
The day after the Football for Friendship World Championship, Young Ambassadors will meet at the most important event — The Sixth International Football for Friendship Children’s Forum, where they will discuss ways of promoting the programme’s key values across the globe.
During the International Friendship Camp Young Players under the guidance of Young Coaches and under the supervision of famous players will be learning of F4F key values in the Nine Values School. The UN considers this initiative as a unique educational programme.
As ecological initiative of Football for Friendship all the 32 International Teams of Friendship named after endangered animals of all the continents of the world. F4F Young Ambassadors from different countries participated in the Open Draw ceremony: Zahar Badyuk (Russia), Runqi Cui (China), Juan Manuel Pinola Silveira (Uruguay), Lilya Matsumoto (Japan), Ananya Kamboj (India), Christopher Sowah Mensah (Ghana).
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of PJSC Gazprom Victor Zubkov, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura, Russian figure skater, Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova, Two-time champion of Russia, European rugby champion in wheelchairs Yuri Kamenets, the Legend of world football Marco van Basten addressed to the participants with the words of support for the programme Football for Friendship.
“The 6th season of the International children’s social programme Football for Friendship is officially open. This year, F4F is supported by 211 countries and regions! For the very first time, young athletes from all parts of the world where football is played will meet on the same field. We live in an age where people all over the world seek to unite behind the principles of equality and respect for each other. The project is a crucial element in this process. Football for Friendship gives that opportunity to everyone,” notes Viktor Zubkov.
“We were glad to support this unique initiative from our FIFA partner Gazprom,” said Fatma Samoura. “The forum is a perfect example of how football can be used to open doors for girls and boys from all backgrounds, a mission that FIFA supports actively.”
“When you dream of something, when you have a goal – you just do everything to achieve it. Of course, it requires dedication and you have to sacrifice a lot on your way. But when the goal is reached – it’s the best thing that can ever happen to you. And that is what happened for me. I think it’s a wonderful projects for kids, as it gives them a chance to experience a grown-up’s life, and reach their goals. I wish all the children the best of luck,” – addressed to the participants Adelina Sotnikova.
“I participated in this project last year in St. Petersburg, one of the host cities for the Confederations Cup. And I was so happy to see how children from various countries gathered together so well; there was a really good team spirit,” notes Yuri Kamenets. “There are many formats of football – a Paralympic one, for people with sight or hearing problems, also for people with cerebral palsy. Football is for everyone, people in wheelchairs play it too. Nothing can stop someone’s love of the game. I can do it – football is for everyone, just go for it”.
“Participating in the Gazprom International Children’s social programme Football for Friendship, you will meet friends from all over the world, learn more about equality and fairness – values that are very important for FIFA. The final events of the Sixth season will be held in Moscow during the World Cup Russia 2018. I hope to meet you there and wish you the best of luck,” – said Marco van Basten.
“I am happy that more and more children from different countries join the Football for Friendship. This programme gave me the opportunity to find new friends from all over the world. Equality, Peace and Friendship are the main values that we talk about with peers and with adults. We really can change the world for the better. I really believe in it.” – said the Young Ambassador of the programme Football for Friendship Juan Manuel Pinola Silveira (Uruguay, 12 y.o.).