GAZPROM “FOOTBALL FOR FRIENDSHIP” 2017 INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S FORUM UNITES YOUNG ATHLETES FROM 64 COUNTRIES
United by the love of football and the spirit of friendship: The Gazprom Football for Friendship 2017 International Children’s Forum was recently held in St Petersburg, Russia to bring together young athletes of different genders, ethnicities and physical capacities from 64 countries across the world. The children from countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and South and North America were split into eight mixed teams to play in an exciting friendly tournament, which was organised by Gazprom, an official partner of FIFA and the 2018 FIFA World Cup™. The aim was to unite youth from around the world while promoting the values of football and a healthy lifestyle. The South African flag was flown high during the tournament thanks to the participation of SA U12 youngster, Adam Olivier, from the Young Bafana Soccer Academy in Cape Town.
Adam was sponsored to participate in the tournament by Gazprom and flew to Russia with his parents, Jacqui and Ari Olivier, his coach Bernardo Steinhage and Darius Jakovchuk, a Russian citizen who has been living in Cape Town for the past 24 years. More than 1 000 guests attended the tournament, including journalists representing top international mass media, football stars and FIFA legends, Olympic and Paralympic Champions, FIFA top management and the heads of football federations and the Russian Olympic Committee. This was an incredible opportunity for young Adam, who said that the experience was a life-changing one for him. He was selected based on his dedication to and attendance at the Young Bafana Soccer Academy, and was placed in a team made up of players from Pakistan, Slovenia, Armenia, Iceland, India, Venezuela and South Korea. His team proudly made it all the way through to third place in the friendly tournament. Adam paves the way for other SA players to participate in future events and Young Bafana Soccer Academy hopes to send more players in 2018.
The event is part of Gazprom’s global social programme, and brought together children to unite them under the banner of equality and peace. Victor Zubkov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom, hopes that all the children will go on to become ongoing ambassadors for Football for Friendship. According to Fatma Samoura, FIFA Secretary General, “We are glad to support this unique initiative from our FIFA partner Gazprom. 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”.
Jakovchuk comments, “The event has set a new precedent, helping children from all walks of life to understand that the game of football can help them to build a better future. The hospitality and professionalism shown by the organisers and the citizens of St Petersburg was incredible, and on behalf of Adam, his parents, and his coach, I would like to extend my gratitude for the opportunity to be part of this amazing global event. I wish Gazprom the greatest success with the Word Cup in 2018”.