11th June, 2018: The Football for Friendship (F4F) programme is underway with Surya Varikuti and Rudresh Gaudnour, 12 year old young ambassadors selected to represent India in the programme.
As a part of the F4F programme, the young footballer and young journalists had to undergo an intensive training programme for 3 days. In these training camps, called International Friendship Camp, the young ambassadors were sorted into teams of different cultures and interacted with kids from 211 countries and regions. They also got an opportunity to take part in master classes and lectures conducted by renowned dignatories.
The Friendship Camp also saw the activation of The International Children’s press center, participated by the young journalists who reported on the activities of the day. The journalist were also a part of master classes conducted by leading media channels, which taught the young journalists how to report.
The training days also focussed on the ecological initiatives, supported by F4F. These initiatives which were explained through special lectures were aimed to make the young ambassadors aware and alert about the problems of the environment.
Surya Varikuti, who hails from Bangalore, started playing football at the age of 5 in the Stanford Youth Football League. He has participated in numerous football tournaments across the country, including the National U-13 Youth League. He currently plays for Roots Football School (RFS) in Bangalore, and dreams to play for the national football team in the future, like his idol, Lionel Messi. The selection of the young footballer was conducted by All India Football Federation (AIFF) by selecting the best defender, fitting the criteria, from a team that conceded the least number of goals. A Barcelona FC fan, this talented, young footballer believes it is important to promote friendship, equality and peace because he believes that we need each of these three things to brighten our world. Apart from football, Surya also likes to play Volleyball and Badminton
He is a student of a Pandit Dindayal Upadaya EMS municipal school in Pune, Rudresh started playing football at the age of 8 and currently plays for the Kothrud Wolves, the Pune team of Just for Kicks (a school intervention programme working towards developing life skills amongst children belonging to lower income families). His parents have been incredibly supportive of his passion and have proved it by using their limited means to buy him things that will help him train better. Rudresh also assists the coach during training sessions and actively mentors Under-8 football teams. Apart from sports, Rudresh is also a writer and an avid reader, and looks after the school newsletter in his role as the Editor-in-chief. His consistent exam score of 95% despite spending over 45 hours a week playing football is a testament to his ability in balancing academics and sports. An FC Barcelona fan, he considers Andres Iniesta as his favourite player.
BACKGROUND- Football for Friendship Programme
Since 2013, PJSC Gazprom has been organizing the International Children’s social programme Football for Friendship. The key values promoted by the programme participants include friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, tradition and honour. The participants are Young Players (girls and boys, including those physically challenged), as well as Young Journalists covering the F4F events within the framework of the The Football for Friendship International Children’s Press Center. Geographical scopeof the programme expand annually: from 8 countries in 2013 to 211 countries in 2018. For the past five years, more than 3,700 people have participated in the programme. Football for Friendship is supported by FIFA, UEFA, International Olympic Committee, football federations of various countries, international children’s charity funds, and world’s leading football clubs.
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. After definition of the roles for the Young Players, their coaches will be selected this way: 19 countries which will represent the Young Coaches were defined in an unpredictable manner as a result of an Open Draw, 11 coaches will be chosen from the cities hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, 2 Young Coaches will be selected from the best participants of the previous seasons of the Football for Friendship programme.