Football provides new prospects for Estonian children

For the second year in a row, the NGO SPIN has received a UEFA Foundation for Children Award on a recommendation from the Estonian Football Association.

During a trip to Tallinn, we received a warm welcome from the CEO of SPIN, Keit Fomotškin. “It means a lot to us to receive a UEFA Foundation for Children Award,” he said. “Recognition from outside Estonia is very important for our team of coaches who work with the kids every day. The award will enable us to expand our programme and involve more participants.”

The youngsters who attend the SPIN-programme come from difficult social backgrounds and have been identified in collaboration with social workers, local authorities and schools.

SPIN believes in the potential of every child to become a good citizen. By playing football in a safe and motivating environment, youngsters learn the positive values of team sport that can be replicated in everyday life. The programme aims to combat youth criminality, lower school dropout rates and increase the number of young people in skilled labour, while providing them with alternative ways to spend their time.

Three times a week, the children meet for a 90-minute training session under the guidance of professional football coaches and assistant coaches. These sessions focus on sports and different skills needed in life and are intended to give them a better knowledge of social values and develop their social behaviour in parallel to their performance in sport. They also develop social skills, such as effective communication, conflict resolution and setting personal goals.

Assistant coach Laura Karpova usually trains the girls. “Women’s football is not very popular in Estonia,” she said. “The SPIN-programme is flexible and we also focus on other activities to reach our goals with girls. For example, they like drawing.”

Angelina (17) and Inna (15) are two active programme participants, both of whom love football and like getting together with their teammates. Angelina in particular really likes the team spirit in the programme. Sometimes she gets to be captain. She likes playing tournaments and is motivated to win.

The children’s development is assessed by measuring their rate of participation and discipline in the activities, as surveyed by the coaches, as well as their grades and behaviour at school.

After the first year, the programme’s impact speaks for itself:

  • 8% improvement in their school results
  • 6% improvement in their behaviour at school
  • 19% improvement in activity, participation and discipline
  • 18% decrease in readiness to engage in risk behaviour
  • 12% improvement in self-control
  • 95% of the participants rate the programme as either good or excellent


Thanks to the foundation’s support, the programme was launched in Tartu. Furthermore, it has helped make reaching target group children more effective. The funding also covers equipment and materials and the summer camp in 2018.

SPIN currently involves over 250 active participants aged 10 to 18 – 83% boys and 17% girls. The programme partners 45 different schools in the Estonian municipalities of Tallinn, Tartu, Rakvere, Kohtla-Järve and Narva.


Sport is one of the things that Daysi loves.

Two years ago, a 13-year-old girl named Daysi joined the School of Integration, Sports Training, Artistic Expression and Professional Development (EIFODEC) in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

At that time, she had basic motor skills and did not have the opportunity to do sport and develop her physical abilities. Since attending the EIFODEC, Daysi has improved her motor skills and has gained confidence through playing team sports such as football, which is her favourite. Football has had a significant impact on the development of Daysi’s self-esteem, personal safety, cooperation and teamwork.

At the age of five, Daysi was rescued from her home because she was exposed to constant sexual abuse by her stepfather and was neglected by her biological mother. Since then she has been living in a foster home with a system of surrogate families. She has found support and love from her foster mother and younger siblings.

Daysi says: “I like to play football because I can run and laugh with my friends. I play well, I have fun and I exercise a lot.”

Daysi is beneficiary of the programme Light for the World.

Eagles book their place at the 2018 IBSA Blind Football World Championships

The members of the Solidarité Aveugle (Blind Solidarity) project have been rewarded for their perseverance. The Eagles will fly to Spain to represent Mali at the 2018 IBSA Blind Football World Championships.

Visually impaired footballers from all parts of Africa donned their blindfolds and battled it out at the recently held IBSA Blind Football African Championships. Among them were the Eagles of Mali, all members of the Solidarité Aveugle (Blind Solidarity) project run by the French Libre Vue association, who set the tone with a 12-0 victory over Cape Verde in their opening match. “We went with the aim of bringing the cup home and qualifying for the 2018 World Championships,” said Mali forward Bandiougou Traoré.

Efforts rewarded

Qualifying is one thing, but the opportunity to play is another. The Mali team’s participation in the second edition of the IBSA Blind Football African Championships in Cape Verde was no foregone conclusion. And Mali is not alone. Sending a team to an event like this is expensive and, without the support of the relevant authorities, often more than small associations can afford. Financial difficulties prevented Ivory Coast from taking part, for example. Fortunately, however, thanks to the efforts of the Libre Vue association, it was a different story for the Eagles. Having already secured funding from the UEFA Foundation for Children, Libre Vue also set up a successful crowdfunding campaign to fund their participation.

Blind football, an effective tool for social integration

The battle was not in vain, as the Mali team’s determined approach saw them finish in an impressive second place and thus qualify for the IBSA Blind Football World Championships to be played in Madrid from 5 to 18 June 2018.

The Blind Solidarity project gives visually impaired youngsters from Bamako an opportunity to discover blind football and its values, and to increase their self-confidence. A total of 150 young people aged between 7 and 25 participate in the project, which runs five training sessions each week. For Bandiougou Traoré, who has been playing blind football for five years, playing in such a competition is a dream come true. “It’s an honour, it’s something I’m really proud of!” he says. As well as requiring commitment, endurance and concentration, blind football helps to send out a strong message of integration and social cohesion by changing perceptions of disabled people. When they represent their country, blind footballers are not defined by their disability: they are players and nothing else.

Access cards help to promote integration and respect in Cañada Real

(Part 3)

The boys and girls of Cañada Real  recently been given access cards for the local sports facilities as part of Red Deporte’s sports programme in the area. This initiative has three main objectives. The first and most important is to encourage the children to identify with those facilities and that sports programme, which aims to improve social and educational integration through sporting activities.

The second objective is to improve the organisation of sports activities, avoiding situations where children of very different ages are playing in the same team. During one particular match at a recent football tournament organised by Red Deporte for 13 and 14-year-olds, a significantly older player took to the field late in the game, having a decisive impact on a hitherto evenly balanced match. At that age, two years can make a big difference in terms of height and weight, so teams with an older player in their ranks will find it much easier to score goals or keep a clean sheet. For this reason, the children’s access cards indicate their age category, keeping different age groups apart for both tournaments and training alike.

Last but not least, the third objective is to promote respect for the rules of those sports facilities and the sports programme in general. When children are given their access cards, they are also given a set of basic rules, which they are expected to abide by and promote. In the event of serious or repeated infringements of those rules, access cards can be withdrawn, temporarily limiting those children’s use of the facilities. On the back of the card is a reminder of the most basic requirement – the obligation to respect other people, the facilities themselves and the community of Cañada. The card also indicates basic rights enjoyed by its holder – the right to have fun playing football and the right to access better education through sport. The access card was introduced for the first time in Cañada

Red Deporte’s sports programme in Cañada is supported by streetfootballworld and the UEFA Foundation for Children.

Football3 in Cañada

(Part 2)

Football3 is perfectly suited to the reality of life on the ground in Cañada, where much remains to be done in terms of real coexistence between communities. “No way am I playing with the Moros,” is Cristian’s response when he is invited to train with the young Moroccans. “Play with the gypsies? No chance,” says Ayub when asked the same question in reverse.

Red Deporte is convinced that Football3 for Respect will help to break down invisible prejudices and barriers in Cañada. Part of its strategy in this regard will involve establishing a joint team combining both communities and sending them off to play in tournaments outside Cañada. And that team will, in turn, host matches against various teams from elsewhere in the Madrid region and the rest of Spain. Football has the potential to foster social cohesion in this particular area and improve its bad reputation, which is not really justified.

Football challenging intercultural sharing

(Part 1)

From Cañada Real – a shanty town on the outskirts of Madrid.

For Adrian, a 17-year-old Romani who lives in Cañada and is a big fan of Sergio Ramos, and Mohammed, a 16‑year-old Moroccan who dreams of one day seeing Messi play, the recent ‘Moros v Gitanos’ tournament was Cañada Real’s equivalent of Real Madrid CF v FC Barcelona.

Last February, Red Deporte organised a special Under-15 tournament for boys from the two largest communities living in Cañada: Moroccans and Roma – ‘Moros v Gitanos’, as the locals dubbed it. For the hundreds of boys and girls who came to cheer the teams on, the result mattered a lot, with both communities keen to prove their superiority. However, despite the divisions between the two groups, there was mutual respect and a good atmosphere throughout, with all tension relating purely to the football.

Through this tournament, Red Deporte sought to foster mutual respect and friendship, without seeking to eliminate spontaneity – as reflected, for example, in the name that the children gave to the tournament. Indeed, one of Red Deporte’s key objectives is to use football – and sport in general – to break down barriers and prejudices, both inside and outside Cañada.

Both teams conducted themselves impeccably on the pitch – a far cry from the stereotypical behaviour that a large section of our society would expect from ‘gitanos’ and ‘moros’. Although the Moroccans secured a narrow victory on the pitch, everyone was a winner, enjoying a great day’s football and successfully using sport to dignify life in Cañada a little.

Red Deporte’s football programme, which is run under the motto ‘football with no limits’, is also aimed at other immigrant and refugee groups in the Madrid region.

Cañada Real, where those young people live, is just 7km from Madrid – a stone’s throw away. And yet, their infrastructure and environmental conditions are light years away from those seen in the Spanish capital. Meanwhile, the neighbourhood shared by the Moroccan and Roma communities is, in turn, divided by an age‑old invisible wall called ‘mistrust’. Those two communities are both beneficiaries of the sports programme run by Red Deporte and four other social organisations in Cañada, but the Roma and the Moroccans essentially train separately seven days a week.

Field in a Box – Cañada Real

Location and general information


The UEFA Foundation for Children exists to promote the fundamental rights of children all over the world. Health, education, access to sport and personal development are all areas in which children’s rights can be safeguarded.
By providing infrastructure such as football pitches, the Foundation aims to use football as a powerful tool for social cohesion.


The Field in a Box project was launched in Cañada Real. Situated less than 15 minutes from the Spanish capital, Cañada Real is one of the largest shanty towns in Europe, housing a total of 30,000 people in deplorable conditions. Relations between the different communities that live there, especially between Roma and Moroccan immigrants, are often difficult.
Thanks to financial support from FedEx – the world’s largest logistics company and main sponsor of the UEFA Europa League – and coordination by the not-for-profit organisation streetfootballworld, the UEFA Foundation for Children donated a football pitch to the charity Red Deporte y Cooperación. The pitch was built using the Field in a Box system, in which all the components of a football pitch are supplied in two containers. The system provides a safe sports facility comprising an enclosed artificial football pitch, goals, floodlights and changing rooms.


The project’s main objective is to enable young people in Cañada Real, where sports facilities are few and far between, to play sport. By promoting football in Cañada Real, the foundation hopes to curb the exclusion of marginalised communities and foster greater social harmony.


In the space of one year:

  • Participation of 400 children (90% boys and 10% girls) in football
  • Organisation of 500 matches
  • Pitch maintained by youth coaches from the local community

Field in a Box is funded as part of FedEx Cares, a wide-ranging campaign that aims to invest in more than 200 communities in Europe and beyond by 2020. By cooperating with the UEFA Foundation for Children alongside its sponsorship of professional football, FedEx hopes to support initiatives with a positive local impact.


UEFA Foundation for Children provides funds to Play for Change programme in Nepal

Programme designed to bring positive changes in children’s lives

At its last board meeting in November, the UEFA Foundation for Children decided to provide funds to Play for Change, to help the organisation in its delivery of a sport and education programme in Besisahar – a municipality in Nepal that was affected by two earthquakes in April and May 2015. The programme, known as Khelaun Khelaun (‘let’s play’ in Nepali), is designed to use sport as a vehicle to improve children’s health and well-being, increase girls’ participation in sport and create local employment, thereby developing long-term opportunities and access to sport.

The programme will be based in and around Besisahar, which is located in the Lamjung district of Nepal. Current access to sport is poor, especially as Lamjung and its sports facilities were were damaged by the two earthquakes last year. The participation of women and girls in sport presents another testing challenge.

Play for Change is working hand-in-hand with Global Action Nepal to ensure that all children have the chance to play sport in their schools and communities.

The main aims of the Khelaun Khelaun sports programme are to:

  • increase participation in sport among disadvantaged children, especially girls;
  • establish sports activities and local leagues in 40 schools in and around Besisahar;
  • improve sports infrastructure and facilities;
  • train coaches and teachers in local communities;
  • promote health and well-being;
  • create brighter perspectives for children in and around Besisahar, by enabling them to acquire new skills;
  • empower and develop skills within the community.

José Manuel Durão Barroso, chairman of the UEFA Foundation for Children’s board of trustees, said: “Sport has a vital role to play in bringing meaning and fun to children’s lives, and the UEFA Foundation for Children is determined to be at the vanguard of promoting health and well-being through sporting activity. The establishment of a sport and education project in this area of Nepal will not only give joy to children, but also help create and foster a positive future for the community. We fully support Play for Change in its admirable work, and wish everyone the very best in this exciting venture.”

Marie Le Page, Director of Play for Change, said: “We are really excited to be working with UEFA Foundation for Children where we share a passion for sport. We believe that this project will offer a great platform and opportunity to the devastated communities of Nepal.”


Play for Change (PFC) is dedicated to the provision of life-changing opportunities for children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Read more about Play for Change and its work on

Global Action Nepal (GAN) has been improving access to and the quality of education in Nepal for 20 years, working primarily with remote and marginalised communities. Read more about Global Action Nepal and its work on

Just Play raises funds to rebuild the Louis-Antoine de Bougainville School in Vanuatu

After Tropical Cyclone Pam, which badly damaged the Vanuatu archipelago’s infrastructure, it is now time to take action and start rebuilding. The coordinators of the Just Play programme have decided to start fundraising to contribute to the rebuilding of the severely damaged Louis-Antoine de Bougainville school, with the support of partners such as the government, several institutions, and children who are involved in sport programmes and community life.

Just Play trainers VAN(1)

Delphin N’alunis, fundraising coordinator, said: “Sport can put a smile back on our faces. Let’s get together and work together to lift the spirits of all the children who have been affected by Cyclone Pam with peace, joy, and happiness.”

Despite the recent events, the Just Play programme is continuing its training and education activities. A train the trainer course was held from 27 April to 1 May in Port Vila, at the Teouma academy. It brought together the 13 Just Play coordinators from the different islands involved.