India, one of the participating countries of the Gazprom Football for Friendship (F4F) Programme, joined over 200 cities of the world in celebrating the International Day of Football and Friendship. The celebration was conducted along with Surya Varikuti, the young defender selected to represent the country at the F4F Programme in Russia.
The young ambassadors from India will join the kids from across 211 countries and regions, in Moscow for the F4F Programme conducted between 8th June to 15th June this year. Surya, selected in the role of a young footballer, will join other young footballers from around the world, in Moscow. The children will be a part of the 32 International Teams of Friendship that play against each other in the Gazprom Football for Friendship International Championship. He will be joined by Rudresh Gaudnour, who will act as a young journalist and cover all the local and global activities of the F4F program as part of the International Children’s Press Center.
The International Day of Football and Friendship is celebrated by the participating countries, as a part of the F4F Programme. The day is celebrated along with the young ambassadors, who bind a blue-green Friendship bracelet to the attendees, as a symbol of this global initiative. The blue string of the bracelet symbolizes the peaceful sky, and the green string symbolizes the football field, accessible to everyone. On this day, the young ambassadors promote the key programme values (friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions and honour), among their peers.
Around the world, children, adults, personalities and football enthusiasts gathered to celebrate the International Day of Football and Friendship by conducting friendly matches, football tournaments, open trainings with star footballers, city holidays, sports events, media events and TV shows. The day, celebrated by cities around the world, has been supported by famous footballers, coaches, television hosts, actors and members of government agencies, all over the world.
The International Day of Football and Friendship was celebrated in India by conducting a friendly football match, on the sidelines of the U-13 National Youth League in Kolkata. The event saw Surya, the player of Karnataka’s Roots Football School, tie the blue-green Friendship bracelet to the participants, in the presence of AIFF officials. The AIFF officials were a part of the celebrations to give their best wishes to the ambassadors for the programme in Russia.
The International Day of Football and Friendship
The first International Day of Football and Friendship was announced by the Young Ambassadors of Gazprom’s Football for Friendship programme in 2014.
Over the years, the events have featured famous football players, including Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic and Russian goalkeeper Yuri Lodygin from Zenit (Saint Petersburg), as well as Dutch striker Dirk Kuyt from Feyenoord (Rotterdam) and the winner of the Euro 2004, Theodoros Zagorakis, from the Greek national football team.
A total of over 500,000 people have taken part in events connected to the International Day of Football and Friendship. The holiday has been supported by hundreds of football players: global football legend Franz Beckenbauer (Germany), one of the strongest strikers in African history, Didier Drogba (Côte d’Ivoire), famous Madrid Real defender Michel Salgado (Spain), former Arsenal London player Andrey Arshavin (Russia), ex-leader of the Portuguese national team Vitor Baia and other stars.
Gazprom’s International Children’s social programme Football for Friendship was launched in 2013. The project brings together boys and girls of different nationalities and physical abilities. Its aim is to develop children’s football and foster in children from different places respect for other cultures and nationalities. The key values sustained and promoted by the programme’s participants are friendship, equality, justice, health, peace, devotion, victory, tradition and honour.
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 scope of 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.