UEFA Europa League dream for local children

UEFA foundation and FedEx to create an unforgettable experience for disadvantaged children

Around 200 children from communities in England, Spain and Switzerland are being given the thrill of a lifetime thanks to the UEFA Foundation for Children, FedEx Express and streetfootballworld – the youngsters will watch the exciting climax to this season’s UEFA Europa League live, and attend the teams’ pre-match training sessions.

This is the first collaboration between a sponsor of UEFA and UEFA Children’s Foundation. The programme kicks off at tonight’s UEFA Europa League semi-final second-leg encounters, and will continue at the final at St. Jakob-Park in Basel, Switzerland, on 18 May. At each match, 22 children aged between seven and nine will be living a magic moment, walking out onto the pitch alongside the players as their escorts.

FedEx, the world’s largest express transportation company, is the main sponsor of the UEFA Europa League, and has donated its entire allocation of player escort places at these important matches to the UEFA Foundation for Children, with both organisations working in conjunction with streetfootballworld, the global non-profit network that uses football to drive social change.

The UEFA Foundation for Children, founded just over a year ago, aims to help children and safeguard their rights. Sport, and football in particular, can provide support in the areas of health and education, as well as promoting access to sporting activity, facilitating children’s personal development and fostering the integration of minorities.

Community football teams have been identified from semi-finalist cities Liverpool and Seville, alongside UEFA Europa League final host city Basel. The teams all work with children from disadvantaged backgrounds and use education, support and development through football to give the youngsters a better chance in life.

At the match between Liverpool FC and Villarreal CF, Street League has nominated children from disadvantaged areas of Liverpool who participate in its football-based programmes, while Red Deporte y Cooperación has nominated children from Seville who come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds for the match between Sevilla FC and FC Shakhtar Donetsk.

“The UEFA Foundation for Children is delighted to be involved in this splendid initiative,” said the chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees, José Manuel Durão Barroso. “Football has an important role to play as a social force and to captivate its youngest enthusiasts. The opportunity for these children to meet top football stars, lead them onto the pitch before thousands of fans and watch the action unfold as spectators will give them not only a great sense of pride, but also an experience that will forever remain in their hearts and memories.”

“The UEFA Europa League offers us the unique ability to connect with communities across Europe,” added Brenda McWilliams-Piatek, FedEx Express’s European marketing vice-president, “and this player escort programme will deliver a truly memorable experience for children from those communities that would otherwise have been out of their reach. We are delighted to be able to give something back to fans that can genuinely make a difference to their lives, and is also a first for sponsorship in the sport.”

“We’re so excited to give this experience to some of the children we work with and thankful to the UEFA Foundation for Children and FedEx for delivering us the opportunity,” said Vladimir Borkovic, streetfootballworld network director and chief operating officer. “Many of the young people in our schemes come from disadvantaged backgrounds, so we try to use football to empower and inspire them to help change their lives.”

Media Release 03 – UEFA Foundation board supports eight new projects

The UEFA Foundation for Children strengthens its commitment to defending the rights of vulnerable children worldwide

The UEFA Foundation for Children’s decision-making body, the board of trustees chaired by former European Commission president José Manuel Durão Barroso, held its latest meeting yesterday at the Foundation’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

The meeting agenda included a review of all current ongoing projects, followed by the ratification of new initiatives to be added to the Foundation’s portfolio in the coming months. The amount of €1.1m will be invested in new projects to be implemented on three continents over a period of several years.

Selected initiatives meet the following criteria: correspondence with the Foundation’s statutes; credibility of the partner organisations; presentation of a viable budget with local partners; and viability of the activities.

The meeting saw the Foundation commit financial support to eight new projects:

  • Establishment of a media library for street children in Ziguinchor (Senegal) in partnership with the Bibliothèque sans Frontière association. This initiative aims to facilitate access to education for street children, in particular young girls involved in child labour. Some 7,500 children are expected to benefit from this apprenticeship tool.
  • Health and social integration through sport in Ireland: This initiative, which comes under the patronage of the John Giles Foundation, aims to promote sporting activities within disadvantaged communities in Ireland; prevent obesity and social exclusion; and help to strengthen club structures and local entities, in order to foster the social integration of vulnerable sectors of the population.
  • Improvement of living conditions of street children in Luanda (Angola): This project, an initiative of SAMU International in partnership with the Arnold Janssen Centre, aims to improve and facilitate access to basic social services for children and young people living on the streets in Luanda. Another objective of this project is to develop socio-sporting activities by making football a support activity. UNICEF estimates that 5,000 children and young people live on the streets of Luanda.
  • A programme tackling social exclusion in Burkina Faso: This programme, organised by SAMU International, aims to combat the social exclusion of street children, and seeks to help them get off the streets through family assistance and professional training. UNICEF estimates that 3,500 children live on the streets of Ouagadougou.
  • Raising awareness of the dangers of mines, and awareness of football in Iraq: Led by Spirit of Soccer, the objective of this project is to reduce the risk of accidents linked to mines and other unexploded munitions that endanger children living in risk areas. In addition, the initiative enables the development of sporting activities for displaced sections of the population. According to estimates, 25,000 children live in camps in Iraq.
  • Inclusive education for the children of East Jerusalem: This project, which comes under the patronage of Terre des Hommes Italy, aims to improve school infrastructures and enable access to sport in the poorer areas of East Jerusalem. The initiative will provide help to 4,700 children and some 200 teachers at ten schools.
  • One Goal for Education: The European Football for Development Network (EFDN) is active in five European countries: Belgium, England, Israel, Netherlands and Scotland. This project aims to foster the personal development of children aged 8 to 15 through playing football; support vulnerable children in the education system; strengthen self-esteem and promote tolerance; and create a guide and e-learning platform to ensure the sustainability of the project. Between 1,000 and 1,500 children will benefit from this initiative.
  • The “Play for Change” programme in Nepal: Launched by the association of the same name, the project aims to ensure access to sport for vulnerable children, in particular young girls; the objective is also to establish sporting activities and local leagues within the schools, and to develop training for coaches and teachers in local communities.

Following the Foundation board of trustees’ meeting, chairman José Manuel Durão Barroso said: “We are satisfied at being able to work on new projects of quality with trusted partners, and in very diverse regions. Together and from today, we are going to work to defend the rights of the poorest children, and support them – through education, health initiatives, social inclusion and access to sport – to enable them to envisage a better future.”

Further information

The official UEFA Foundation for Children website: www.UEFAfoundation.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/uefafoundation

Twitter: https://twitter.com/UEFA_Foundation

Media contact: media@uefafoundation.org

Media Release 02 – Football United for Peace

A human chain created by 1,000 children, together with the players and the referee team, to promote peace and unity

The UEFA Super Cup match between FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC, which will take place in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Tuesday 11 August, will feature a historic moment in the world of football. For the first time, the opening ceremony will include a human chain: a symbolic act involving the players, the referee team and 1,000 disadvantaged children and accompanying adults from Georgia and eight neighbouring countries. The aim of this shared initiative by the Georgian Football Federation (GFF) and the UEFA Foundation for Children is to spread a powerful message: ‘Football United for Peace’.

Tbilisi is the easternmost European city to host the UEFA Super Cup since 2012, when the match left Monaco, where it had been played since 1998. Other cities can now host this encounter between the previous season’s winners of the two major European club competitions: the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. The GFF, with the support of the UEFA Foundation for Children, decided to seize this opportunity to send a strong message by giving the spotlight to children from conflict zones in Europe, conveying the idea of peace and unity, and showing how football can bring people together. The national football associations of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine all responded positively to this initiative.

The president of the GFF, Zviad Sichinava, said: “Everyone will receive a message of peace and unity from the children – a message that is important for society. The inclusion of this message in the pre-match ceremony shows how important these core values are to UEFA – values which led to the inauguration of the UEFA Foundation for Children. I would like to thank all the participating associations for their support in working together to use football’s vast popularity as a platform to promote these vital values to a global audience.”

UEFA President Michel Platini added: “Football gives us a great opportunity to be united as a society, and to empower children. Childhood is a time when we exhibit the most extraordinary potential, and we hope that the presence of these children at this great occasion in Tbilisi can be inspirational for their futures. We would like to thank the Georgian Football Federation and its president, Zviad Sichinava, for the work undertaken with the UEFA Foundation for Children in order to make a difference to vulnerable children through this project.”

The UEFA Foundation for Children was established in 2015 on the initiative of the UEFA President, reflecting UEFA’s desire to use football as a force for good in society. A number of humanitarian and development programmes are being conducted by the foundation around the world. Furthermore, earlier this year a number of children were invited to the UEFA Europa League final in Warsaw, the UEFA Champions League final in Berlin, and the UEFA European Under-21 Championship final in Prague.

Further information

The official UEFA Foundation for Children website: www.UEFAfoundation.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/UEFA-Foundation-for-children/1390557581256583

Twitter: https://twitter.com/UEFA_Foundation

Media contact: media@uefafoundation.org

Media Release 01 – UEFA Foundation for Children gets off the ground : Four initial projects to help disadvantaged children

The UEFA Foundation for Children was established on the initiative of the UEFA President, Michel Platini, reflecting the desire of European football’s governing body to play a more active role in society. The UEFA Foundation for Children is governed by Swiss law and has been operational since March 2015.

For many years UEFA has supported initiatives and programmes that help disadvantaged children throughout Europe and beyond. Now, the UEFA Foundation for Children has taken over and is stepping up these activities to help promote children’s fundamental rights as expressed in international conventions, according to which a child is a person in their own right, has rights of their own and should be able to assert those rights. The foundation is active in various domains such as health, education, access to sport, law, personal development and the integration of minorities.

The board of trustees met for the first time on 23 March 2015 in Vienna. José Manuel Durão Barroso, former president of the European Commission, was elected for a four-year term as chairman of the board. The other trustees are (in alphabetical order): Sándor Csányi (president of the Hungarian Football Federation and founder of the Csányi Foundation for Children), Norman Darmanin Demajo (president of the Malta Football Association and founder of the Time2Think Organisation), Peter Gilliéron (president of the Swiss Football Association and chairman of the UEFA Fair Play and Social Responsibility Committee), Margarita Louis-Dreyfus (chairperson of the supervisory board of Louis-Dreyfus Holding B.V. and president of the Louis-Dreyfus Foundation), Michel Platini (UEFA President) and Viviane Reding (member of the European Parliament).

At its inaugural meeting, the board of trustees approved a series of initial projects in favour of disadvantaged children:

  • Football in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan: initiated by UEFA in 2013, the foundation has taken over this project, helping children displaced by the conflict in Syria by organising sports activities, training for football coaches and tournaments for girls and boys living in the refugee camp.
  • Just Play: the foundation has also taken over this project in the Pacific, which was set up by the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and UEFA and has received numerous awards already. The aim is to encourage physical activity among 6 to 12-year-olds and to promote healthy lifestyles to counter the problem of child obesity that affects much of the Pacific region.
  • Three projects linked to UEFA EURO 2016 in France: the foundation will organise activities throughout the tournament next summer in support of a series of projects designed with the rights of the child in mind.
  • Autism project: the foundation will work with the International Foundation of Applied Disability Research (FIRAH) to improve the lives of autistic children and their families.

José Manuel Durão Barroso said: “UEFA’s commitment in setting up this foundation embodies a desire that has always inspired me, to reach out to those most in need by turning the fundamental values of European civilisation – human dignity, solidarity and hope – into opportunities for our children to improve their lives. Together, we must act to guarantee them a future full of promise. Because by acting on behalf of children today we are shaping the society of tomorrow.”

Further information:

The official UEFA Foundation for Children website: www.UEFAfoundation.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/UEFA-Foundation-for-children/1390557581256583

Twitter: https://twitter.com/UEFA_Foundation

Media contact: media@uefafoundation.org