An international children’s program called Football for Friendship, from football pitches to online interaction, has already given thousands of children around the world the opportunity to connect and share experiences.
The project is organized by Gazprom, with the aim of uniting younger generations and promoting basic human values while raising awareness of important issues such as gender equality in sport or the well-being of our planet.
Small steps to save the planet
The show’s ninth season began with an online challenge called “Little Steps to Save the Planet”. Young participants from over 200 countries presented how they contribute to the environment through short videos.
“Now, in this current situation, I think we all realize how much we affect our environment. And how much of the environment is part of this world and of humanity,” says a young journalist from the project.
Plastic waste, water waste, and public transportation are all examples that children from many parts of the world draw attention to and advocate for environmental protection. Some of them have also made their homes more environmentally friendly with the help of their parents.
”We already have a composter there. “We try to use reusable bags instead of plastic bags,” said Myriam Sheehan. “We have underfloor heating so we get heat from the ground and it heats the house – we don’t use oil or anything else. We recycle it and since we are very fortunate to have a very large garden, we grow our own garlic and we also have apple trees. This is very important because now we can help change, because we are the next generation.”
The teams are named after endangered animals
Each year, the children participating in the electronic world championship “Football for Friendship” name their teams after endangered animal species. Also participating in this year’s online tournament were the “White Rhino”, “Chinese Crocodile” and “Grey Shark” teams.
Although the Argali team eventually won the competition, all the participants considered themselves winners, drawing attention on the one hand to endangered animals and even setting a Guinness World Record for large attendance in the virtual stadium.
World records are also set
The program previously set two world records: once with the number of players participating in football training of most nationalities, and secondly with the most connected users in a video football meeting.
More records will be set: Football for Friendship is a community, Rich Williams, ambassador for Football for Friendship, said. It’s about bringing people together, but it also allows them to take something with them from the time they spend together during the program.”
So not only can we say, ‘We had a great time, but we also broke a world record!’ Because people from all over the world have joined together and we have come together as a community to do something that has never been done before.”
“I think it’s worth striving for results like that, it’s worth forcing it, and I’m sure we’ll have plans to break world records in the future. It’s not just good fun, it’s also kind of a statement about being a part of something,” Williams said.
With the support of major sports organizations such as UEFA, FIFA or the International Olympic Committee, the Football for Friendship initiative has already gathered more than 16,000 participants from 211 countries and regions. They hope that more will follow their message of peace and equality in the years to come.