Promising football players and aspiring journalists from American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tonga and Vanuatu have returned to their home countries as Football For Friendship Young Ambassadors after attending the 2018 Gazprom International Children’s Social Programme, Football For Friendship (F4F) in Moscow.
In the lead up to the FIFA World Cup 2018™, the sixth Football For Friendship programme was attended by 1500 children and was covered by over 300 international media outlets to spread the values embodied by the beautiful game to the world. Now these kids will bring the values learned at this rapidly growing global social programme to their own countries in the name of friendship.
F4F consisted of training for designated Young Players, masterclasses for designated Young Journalists, the showpiece Football For Friendship World Championship and finished with Football For Friendship International Children’s Forum.
On 12 June, the Football for Friendship World Championship was held at the Sapsan Arena, home of local professional club FC Kazanka Moscow.
In total, 32 international teams of friendship were formed with each team named after rare animals on the verge of extinction to increase the interest of younger generations in preserving the world’s fauna. Team ‘Chimpanzee’ won the tournament and were presented with the Nine Values Cup, representing the nine values of the programme: friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions and honour.
To cap off the programme, all participants were invited to attend the opening match of the FIFA World Cup 2018™. The opportunity was brought to New Zealand and the South Pacific region by Football For Friendship’s global football partnership with Lengo Football Academy and its local partner, Reagan Milstein Foundation.
“It was very exciting being a part of this event as I got to make good friendships and create bonds with children from some countries like Serbia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Somalia, Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands and Trinidad and Tobago. This journey helped me open up to others, being more confident and adaptable with others. It has helped me to train harder and commit myself to football because the Earth is shaped like a football and football drives the planet.” – Daniel Ngamata
“We had a lot of fun, all the kids from different countries have their own unique way of showing their culture. I meet so many kids from different countries but my and I became friends Luzia from Serbia and Ziporah from Tanzania. Luzia is the open social type, she won’t hesitate to say what she wants. Ziporah is quiet girl but when you get to know her she’s really fun. This trip boosted my confidence and made me more sociable with everyone. I talk a lot now and I have a much better perspective and view of the world. It has inspired me to travel the world in the future, and maybe become an air hostess, but whatever chance I get in the future I’d make sure Cook Islands becomes well-known.” – Amqle Tuaratini
“My dream is to play for Fiji and hopefully, win a scholarship where I can study and play football. My interest started while accompanying my grandmother to watch my uncle’s play and I started playing at nine – I believe in equality because it promotes togetherness.” – Elizabeth Laqere
I am good at writing and am also a keen footballer who’s eager to learn more. While I’m proud to represent Fiji as a journalist at F4F, and I loved representing my country at the 2028 FIFA World Cup. Football can help us to live happily together as part of a multi-racial country.” – Hayyaan Khan
“I discovered football when I was three-years-old and it’s thanks to my late father that I learnt a lot about the history of football in New Caledonia. Friendship is essential to connect us despite our differences, countries and cultures. There are too many wars in the world and we must work together to preserve harmony and F4F has made that even more possible.” – Karine Waru
“Football is the biggest sport in the world, so many people play it. We are all on the same planet so if everyone just plays and gets along we can make lots of friends and have a better future.” – Jonty Burggraaf
It’s really amazing to see all the different countries to come and compete in the F4F programme. I’ve made loads of friends from all over the world. I have a friend called Majesty, Amir and a couple of friends both called Daniel!” – Isla Ganley
“I made so many friends, learned different languages, skills and techniques in football, different countries and their cultures, different flags that belong to certain countries. And we also shared Samoa’s culture among other countries. For me, it was fun; I liked the kids playing with me, like my team. I learned some Russian words like saying good morning ‘dobroe utro’ and one of the skills I learned was the panna move, in football it is when a player dribbles the ball between the legs of a player from the opposing team.” – Peniata Maiava
“The highlight was of course the 2018 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony and match, as I sat down in my mind I thought it was just a dream, because I never thought I would be there. I thought the game was a bit one sided, but the opening ceremony was really entertaining and then the next day we departed, which was a sad and emotional day for everyone.” – Semisi Semisi
“I started playing football when I was five. My dad is a national player for our country and with his help and encouragement, I dream that one day, I can follow my father’s footsteps. Football is about more than playing – it brings friendship, unity and peace. In football, there are no differences and titles, we are one.” – Abraham Iniga
“I am pleased to be nominated for the Football for Friendship programme and to support the values of friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions and honour. I believe that everyone should be given an equal chance and that people should be treated fairly so we can all live together in peace and harmony and make the world a better place.” – Hendrix Maneoru
“I started playing football at three and want to be professional player in the future. I’m looking forward to meeting andplaying with people from other countries. I’m also curious to see Russia.” – Nahiti Germain
Football brings me joy and teaches me respect. I can’t wait to meet players from other countries and to discover new things during my stay in Russia. Friendship is important to me – I love being part of a group and to be part of a combined effort.” – Terehau Hucke
“ F4F has a very professional level of playing. You have to do a lot of training at your home country before heading going out because from what I saw and experience, there are future stars in the F4F. That is what I learned and going to put effort on it when I return to my home country. The highlight will be the Opening of the World Cup. In my country it is a rare opportunity, but attending the opening really encourage myself and hope one day, I’ll be a professional player.” – Kalisitaine Seau
“F4F gave me opportunity to build confident in myself despite being a girl. As a first time traveler I began to see that this world is much bigger than I thought. I’m happy to go back and share my experience and what I learned out of the nine values.” – Anita Hufanga
“I learned to make new friends, and the value of friendship. And in the future, I would like to share my experience on the football pitch with other children. My highlight was getting to meet and see football stars and attending the World Cup opening ceremony.” – Meihua Franck
“To become a journalist and make new friends was amazing. I also got to learn to speak few words of other languages. And in the future, I would like to share my experience with other children and to encourage them to play sport because it can help them to travel and make new friends.” – Iawiolo Batal