Football for Future

Location and general information

Location Urban areas of Ukraine: Kyiv, Irpin, Bucha, Svitlovodsk, Myrhorod, Rivne, Brovary, Kremenchuk
Start date 03/01/2022
End date 04/30/2024
Cost of the project €59,875
Foundation funding €53,460
Project identifier 20220924
Partners Shakhtar Social charity organisation
Categories Access to Sport - Conflict victims - Personal development


According to the Ukraine Internal Displacement Report produced by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), there were 5,088,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ukraine in May 2023. The report also indicates that:

  • 47% of IDPs are aged 5-17 years old;
  • 17% of IDP households lack access to education for their children.

Project goals

Football for Future is a social football project designed to promote inclusion and social cohesion, providing equal chances for 640 internally displaced children and socially disadvantaged kids to play football and get involved in extracurricular activities, providing relief from their circumstances.

Project content

The 640 children will be able to participate in free football sessions and local tournaments in eight cities around the country.

  • Free football sessions are run year-round and include physical exercises, fun games, educational personal training and football, three times a week for each participant.
  • Local tournaments are organised twice a year to unite all participants, enhancing their experience, enjoyment and connection within the local community.


Mastercard and UEFA Foundation for Children join forces to give the joy of football back to children in the earthquake zone

Mastercard and UEFA Foundation for Children join forces to give the joy of football back to children in the earthquake zone

Mastercard and the UEFA Foundation for Children join forces to launch the "Pitches of Hope" project, an initiative to provide hope for earthquake-affected children and youth.

The facilities will open their doors in June in the most heavily impacted earthquake areas, including Gaziantep Nurdağı, Hatay Antakya, and Adıyaman.

The project will be creating safe football pitches for the children affected by the natural disaster, to improve their mental and physical well-being and to strengthen their peer-to-peer bonds.

Istanbul, June 9th, 2023 – Mastercard, official sponsor of the UEFA Champions League, and the UEFA Foundation for Children join forces for a new project called “Pitches of Hope”. The aim of the project is to support children affected by the earthquakes in line with Mastercard’s corporate social responsibility work. Mastercard will be supporting the international non-governmental organization Save the Children Türkiye, which will build and rehabilitate football fields in the most earthquake-affected regions, including Nurdağı (Gaziantep), Antakya (Hatay), and Adıyaman; and run football programmes with the aim of instilling new hope in children and youth, by harnessing the healing power of sport.

The football fields will be built and rehabilitated starting from the beginning of June, and the pitches will be completed and open to the children by the end of December.


Launched today at a joint event with the attendance of UEFA Ambassador Marco Materazzi, Mastercard and UEFA Equal Game Ambassador Barış Telli, Fatih Terim, and Selçuk Inan, the "Pitches of Hope" project will create safe spaces for earthquake-affected children to play, improve their mental and physical wellbeing, and strengthen their peer-to-peer bonds. As part of the project, experts in child psychology and trauma designed a series of football-based games, which will be implemented under the coordination of Save the Children Türkiye to facilitate the children's recovery process. Each game is meticulously designed to encourage teamwork, enhance resilience, bolster mental well-being, and, above all, allow children to embrace the carefree essence of childhood once more.  It is believed that expressions of joy, celebratory high-fives, and shared laughter serve as crucial initial strides on the path to healing.

 “WE WANT TO GIVE KIDS A CHANCE TO BE KIDS AGAIN” - AVŞAR GÜRDAL, General Manager of Mastercard Türkiye.

From the beginning, Mastercard supported the activities to heal the wounds of the earthquake-affected regions. Initially, we provided financial assistance for humanitarian aid to the region through various non-governmental organisations and we matched employee donations to the cause globally. And today, we are delighted to announce our commitment to a new joint project Pitches of Hope, with the UEFA Foundation for Children. For the past 29 years, Mastercard has been a proud sponsor of the UEFA Champions League, a highly anticipated competition among football fans globally. To crown our longstanding partnership and pass on hope to our children in the earthquake zone, we have joined forces to give them a chance to be kids again, by giving access to safe guarded football fields. Through the ‘Pitches of Hope' project, we aim to eliminate the lingering effects of earthquakes and strive to establish a fresh wellspring of joy and optimism in the lives of children.”

WE’LL PROMOTE CHILDREN’S HEALTH AND WELL-BEING IN A FUN WAY” - URS KLUSER, General Secretary of the UEFA Foundation for Children

“The Pitches for Hope project is a great way to engage the children affected by the earthquake in sport, to promote health and well-being in a fun way, and to help them to overcome their trauma. Thanks to the valuable support of Mastercard, more children will have access to a safe place to play to reconnect with their childhood and hope for a better future.”

“THE PITCHES WILL PROVIDE CHILDREN WITH THE SAFE SPACES KIDS NEED” - OBEN COBAN, Government Relations, Safety and Security Director for Save the Children Türkiye.

"More than four months after the first earthquakes hit, children are still trying to piece their lives back together and adapt to their new realities. As a result, children’s mental well-being is pushed to the limits, unable to move past the distressing experiences they’ve been through. In these conditions, children need crucial support to avoid long-term repercussions on their health, well-being, and development for months or even years to come. We know that the ability to play with friends and loved ones allows children to take a break from their new realities – which is why we are looking forward to supporting the national earthquake response in partnership with Mastercard on ‘Pitches of Hope’. The pitches will provide children with the safe spaces for fun, play, and community they need at such a challenging time.”

The launch event also included a friendly match where children from the earthquake zone had the opportunity to play football with UEFA ambassadors. Following the launch event, the children will have the chance to tour Istanbul along with their families. On the 10th of June, kids will enter the pitch with finalist teams and be player mascots at the UEFA Champions League Final and enjoy being Mastercard’s guests at the stadium, watching the final alongside their families.

Mastercard invites everyone who wishes to support the cause to the Tap-to-donate terminals in the official UEFA Champions League areas around Istanbul.

About Mastercard

Project partner

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all. You can follow us on Twitter at @MasterCard_TR, you can reach all of our newsletters and news kits by clicking on the Mastercard Newsroom link.

Refugee Youth Empowerment

Location and general information

Location Penang, Malaysia
Start date 01/01/2023
End date 12/31/2024
Cost of the project €23,839
Foundation funding €23,839
Project identifier 20220154
Partners Persatuan Komuniti Berdikari (also known as ASPIRE Penang and Penang Stop Human Trafficking Campaign)
Categories Access to Sport - Conflict victims - Infrastructure and equipment - Personal development


In Malaysia, young refugees often live in an environment that offers few opportunities for recreation, education or social interaction. The Malaysian government provides no legal or administrative framework to protect or support refugees. Instead, it has invited the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to verify, register and resettle refugees, based on the concept that refugees are simply in transit. However, the severe lack of resettlement places means that refugees end up staying in Malaysia for decades, without access to mainstream education and protection at work and few safeguards against extortion, harassment, arrest and detention. Consequently, women, men and young people often feel helpless and without hope, as their opportunities in Malaysia are very limited and the chances of resettlement slim.

Project goals

1. Significantly increase opportunities for young refugees to learn about and engage in organised activities, including sports and other recreation, and to acquire life skills

2. Build teamwork, responsibility, decision-making and leadership skills through participants’ ‘ownership’ of project planning and management

3. Improve prospects by learning vocational and life skills

Project content

Over a two-year period, this project will offer young refugees in Penang greater opportunities to engage in activities that bring hope and positivity: an organised football project for boys, other culturally appropriate recreational activities for girls, and life skills classes in language and computer literacy. These are skills the young refugees themselves have identified as critical for their future. In the football programmes, the players themselves will be responsible for all aspects of team management, which will build a sense of ownership, leadership and responsibility. In the other parts of the project, the young people will play a key role in initiating and directing activities.


U14 football programme boys One practice session + one match a week
U19 football programme boys One practice session + one match a week
Girls’ recreational activity Frequency to be determined
Computer classes Once a week at weekends (note: young refugees are only available for classes at weekends)
English classes Once a week at weekends (note: young refugees are only available for classes at weekends)


Football: A universal language

Location and general information

Location Lithuania
Start date 01/01/2023
End date 12/31/2023
Cost of the project €50,000
Foundation funding €37,000
Project identifier 20220179
Partners Vilnius social club
Categories Access to Sport - Conflict victims - Gender Equality - Healthy lifestyle - Personal development


Lithuanian society has faced various challenges over the last few years:

  • Deterioration in the population’s psychological health following the pandemic;
  • Large number of refugees arriving from Africa and the Middle east in 2021 after the border with Belarus opened;
  • Tensions with Russian community and migration from Ukraine as a result of the war in Ukraine;
  • Economic hardship, inflation and increased poverty.

In Lithuania, football is not accessible to vulnerable children and young adults because of the high fees and too much focus on results.

Project goals

Vilnius Social Club has run the football programme since 2013. The main goal is not sporting results, but a qualitative change in the life of each participant:

  • To help develop children and young people to develop skills and qualities that will help them to overcome various life challenges, such as independence, communication skills and the ability to work as a team, take responsibility, solve conflicts, find compromises and come to agreement.
  • To improve the participants’ social and sporting skills, thereby expanding the options available to teenagers in the future.

Principles of the project:

  1. Football is just a tool: we want participants in the football programme to grow as individuals, and we aim to create a space in which children and young people can take part in regular and long-term activities at their own pace. Playing football helps them to learn to be on time and stay until the end, to work as a team, to manage their emotions, to deal constructively with stressful and challenging situations, to win and lose, to interact with peers and adults, and to reflect on their experiences.
  1. Equal opportunities for all: we encourage diversity among the children who attend our football sessions, who include girls and boys, quieter and louder children, those of different nationalities, and weaker and stronger individuals.
  1. Empowering performance: we constantly reflect on our work and try to be clear about the limits of our responsibilities. Instead of playing the role of saviour, we choose to collaborate with our partners, provide them with feedback and work together to make a positive difference in the lives of children and young people.

Project content

Participants of the football activities are divided into different age groups, with each having a two-hour session once a week. The sessions are structured as follows:

  1. Informal activities (free play): 20 minutes
  2. Opening circle: 10 minutes
  3. Football exercises: 30 minutes
  4. Football match: 30 minutes
  5. Discussion (circle): 30 minutes

Around 120 people aged from 7 to 20, with different experiences and facing different challenges, participate in the football programme each year. They all find a space where they are accepted regardless of their behaviour, financial situation or physical ability.

Additional activities include collaborating with families, one-to-one communication, work with individuals, activities during school holidays, and a summer camp.


Together for the Ukrainians

Location and general information

Location Italy
Start date 03/01/2023
End date 12/31/2023
Cost of the project €50,000
Foundation funding €25,000
Project identifier 20220892
Partners Comitato Regionale Emigrazione Immigrazione - CREI ACLI Sardegna
Categories Access to Sport - Conflict victims - Employability - Personal development - Strengthening partnerships


The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 triggered a forced migration of Ukrainian citizens across Europe. Although refugee flows can change rapidly, Italy has received the fourth largest number of Ukrainian refugees in Europe (220,000), after Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic.

Project goals

The project’s short-term goals are to help refugees cope with trauma and restore their mental well-being as well as overcome communication barriers that hinder social interactions.

The medium-term objectives are to promote refugees’ personal development and growth in different contexts.

The long-term goals are to prevent isolation and discrimination, nurture relationships and offer healthy opportunities for cultural exchanges.

Project content

CREI ACLI acted immediately to address the critical issues of the emergency. However, these were short-term actions, whereas the integration of refugees is a long and difficult process, requiring efforts to prevent isolation, discrimination and, ultimately, social delinquency. Our refugee integration project is based on a social inclusion model that will address these difficulties.

In addition to the services we have offered since March 2022 (psychological support, Italian classes, support for enrolment in school and university, professional and career counselling), we will carry out the following activities:

Sport, art and cultural orientation: activities to present children with the opportunities in our area. Sports-based educational activities are great tools to reduce aggression, bring people together and build good relationships between different groups.

Enrolment in sports clubs: team sports favour interactions and integration. Refugee children will play in heterogeneous teams of local children and children from various ethnic origins. Special game-based training sessions and tournaments will be held in the province of Cagliari based on the theme of solidarity.

Recreation and fun activities: together with local children and second-generation immigrants in the same age range, young refugee will take part in social games and activities in the park. There will also be art workshops and discussions on customs, traditions, current affairs, etc.

Guided tours around Cagliari and trips further afield with local and second-generation immigrant children to visit places of historical, artistic, cultural and natural interest in Sardinia.


Education Through Sports

Location and general information

Location Yemen
Start date 12/01/2022
End date 06/30/2023
Cost of the project €86,283
Foundation funding €73,700
Project identifier 20220348
Partners Helpcode
Categories Access to Sport - Conflict victims - Healthy lifestyle


After seven years of conflict, Yemen is still suffering the effects of one of the world’s most severe humanitarian crises, with an estimated 24.1 million people in need of urgent assistance. Four million of these people are internally displaced. Vulnerable women, girls and children are paying the heaviest price; they tend to suffer the most from a limited access to basic services, threats and the lack of privacy, compromising their safety and making them even more exposed to violence.

Project goals

- Address the psychosocial needs of children affected by conflict and displacement by improving access to sport and psychosocial and social education.

- Promote children’s rights and strengthen protection mechanisms in the broader community.

Project content

  1. Provide training workshops for psychosocial support facilitators and teachers on the delivery of psychosocial support and the use of play-based activities as a tool for integration and development.
  2. The delivery of psychosocial support sessions to in-school and out-of-school children by supplying sports equipment and using recreational activities to help children deal with trauma and build life skills.
  3. Community awareness-raising campaigns on children’s rights and protection services.


SHARE: my story

Location and general information

Location Senegal, Palestine and Burkina Faso
Start date 01/10/2023
End date 12/31/2023
Cost of the project €88,770,00
Foundation funding €72,140,00
Project identifier 20220581
Partners Exodos Ljubljana
Categories Access to Sport - Children with disabilities - Conflict victims - Employability - Environmental protection - Healthy lifestyle - Personal development - Strengthening partnerships


We strongly believe that sport and culture should be more connected and the Share: My Story programme promotes this. Children who hope to be the best footballers in the world should learn about culture for their personal growth and to broaden their horizons. We advocate for equality for girls and boys who, although from different backgrounds, all share the same passion.

Project goals

Our project encourages social, sporting and artistic bonds, promoting the talent of young people and strengthening their physical, cultural and intellectual capital.

Specific objectives

  • Provide young people from different countries with new training and cultural skills, enabling them to express their voices through art.
  • Connect sport with cultural activities, the physical with the imagination, for the surrounding communities: families, neighbours, schoolmates.
  • Empower small clubs and NGOs in their efforts to inspire creative teamwork.

Project content

Creative camps in three countries: Senegal, Burkina Faso, Palestine

  • My story – a workshop in documentary filmmaking
  • Urban dance and movement – a workshop in urban dance

Location 1: Dakar, Senegal, 10–21 January 2023

Location 2: Jenin, Ramallah, Palestine, 1–14 July 2023

Location 3: Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, 1–11 December 2023

Creating and updating project website and social media accounts, producing PR content

1 December 2022 – 31 December 2024

Completion of the professional documentary film My Story

30 March 2024

Setting up and developing local football clubs

20 January 2023 – 31 December 2023


World Refugee Day: Young refugees meet EURO winner Papadopoulos for UEFA Foundation online chat

Young refugees meet EURO winner Papadopoulos for UEFA Foundation online chat 

A groupe of young refugees from across the world joined Greece's UEFA EURO 2004 champion and former refugee Dimitris Papadopoulos to talk about football and lot more besides - thanks to UEFA Foundation for Children initiative to mark Saturday's World Refugee Day.

The refugees, aged between 12 and 17, represented five partner bodies receiving funding from the UEFA foundation for refugee-related projects. The 26 youngsters joined together for an online video chat, organised by the UEFA Foundation, with Dimitris Papadopoulos – a former refugee and a member of the Greece squad that triumphed at UEFA EURO 2004 in Portugal.

The conversation commemorated this year's World Refugee Day on Saturday, in which events throughout the world will raise awareness of the situation of refugees and highlight the challenges that they face.

The young refugees who took part in the chat came from Kicken Ohne Grenzen, Cross Cultures Project Association, FC Barcelona Foundation, Association Football Development Programme and the Lesvos project with FC Cosmos and Aiolikos. They spoke among themselves and with Papadopoulos about their daily lives, their love of football and their dreams for the future.

Speaking from experience…

Dimitris Papadopoulos was born in Uzbekistan and his family returned to Greece when he was nine. He went on to forge a fine career as a striker which saw him crowned Greek Super League Player of the Year on three occasions. In addition to a much-travelled club career, Papadopoulos won 22 caps for Greece between 2002 and 2014.

He relished the opportunity to pass on his own experiences and answer questions from the youngsters about his life and footballing career.

The youngsters’ view...

Jasma, aged 15 - Kicken ohne Grenzen

“I really liked to talk to Dimitris. His story was very inspiring, because we kind of feel the same. Football can help you forget about problems and have a happy life.”

 Francis, aged 16 - FC Cosmos and FC Aiolikos

“We had the opportunity to talk with other refugees from other projects around the world. It was a great experience, and we would like it to happen again. This event gave me fresh hope and courage for my dreams. Thank you so much.”

Ahmed, aged 13 - AFDP Global

“I enjoyed it a lot, because we talked with other refugee kids from all over the world. We understand all of their dreams, and we were very happy to talk with Dimitris.

Godfrey, aged 12 – CCPA

“I was very impressed to meet a lot of youngsters from different countries in my first-ever conference meeting on a computer. I understand the importance of football in somebody’s life…especially when [Dimitris] explained how football changed his life.”

UEFA Foundation for Children and refugees

Football has the power to act as a massive social force, and strives to make an enormous contribution to helping people, young and old, to overcome problems and face the future with greater optimism. UEFA has been addressing the plight of refugees for a number of years, putting different measures in place, and using football as a vehicle for change

Through supporting socio-educational and sports projects in Europe and beyond, the UEFA Foundation for Children seeks to help improve the living conditions of refugee children, as well as their dignity and respect for their fundamental rights.

UEFA Foundation for Children general secretary Urs Kluser

"For young refugees, football gives them the chance to cope with a difficult situation and to realise their full potential. Together, with our partner organisations and with everyone who loves football, the sport has a real opportunity to have a positive impact on these young people and the host communities. It is one of the successful ways to help them to get adjusted to a new life."

The UEFA Foundation for Children currently funds 24 refugee projects - 14 in Europe, five in Asia and five in Africa.

This funding helps the partners undertake refugee activities, using sport and football in particular as a vehicle to improve lives and bring smiles to faces.


“Having been a refugee myself at an early age, I know first-hand the struggle, the agony, the hardships. For me, it was football that changed my life. It gave me purpose to move on, to become a better man.

Talking to the young refugees, I tried to pass the message that even when times are hard, we are responsible for our choices - and we should never give up on our dreams. We can be what we dream of”.

- Dimitris Papadopoulos, former greek player

WRD - Screenshot Papadopoulos

Dimitris Papadopoulos

WRD - screenshot 2

Mustafa, 13 years old, from Afghanistan leaving in Lesvos

WRD - Screenshot 2020-06-19 at 11.05.55

Refugee kids from Zaatari camp

WRD - Screenshot 2020-06-19 at

Fatima, 13 years old, from Afghanistan, leaving in Athens

UEFA President Čeferin inaugurates pitch at Jordanian refugee camp

UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin has helped to officially open a new football pitch at the Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan, which will give thousands of children the opportunity to play the game they love, with the best facilities possible.

Over 200 boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 13 took part in the opening ceremony, and were joined by Mr. Čeferin for a football match on the new playing surface.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to see how something as simple as a football pitch can bring so much joy and happiness. Football has the ability to inspire, unite and also teach children important life skills and values, such as teamwork and respect,” the UEFA president said.

The building of the full-sized artificial pitch was backed by the UEFA Foundation for Children, the Asian Football Development Project (AFDP), the Jordanian Football Association, the Norwegian Football Federation and Lay’s, who are also a sponsor of the UEFA Champions League.

Two containers filled with artificial turf, construction materials, maintenance support equipment (including a tractor), and pitch equipment such as goals and corner flags were sent from the Netherlands. The construction of the pitch took two months and was completed in late May.

During his visit to Za’atari, which houses just over 80,000 refugees, Mr. Čeferin visited the ‘House of Sport,’ which was opened in September 2016 by the UEFA Foundation for Children and the AFDP.

“It is genuinely a humbling experience to be able to interact with children from this camp. Despite the situations they find themselves in, they are able still to smile and enjoy life as much as possible,” said Mr. Čeferin. “I am glad that the work carried out by the UEFA Foundation for Children, the Asian Football Development Project, the Norwegian Football Federation and Lays is giving these children opportunities that they otherwise would not have had.”

The centre has become the hub of sporting life in the camp and allows children to play in a safe environment as well as giving them the chance to engage in sport and football in particular with others.

This is the latest in a long line of projects that the UEFA Foundation for Children has undertaken at the Za’atari Refugee Camp, which is located in the north of Jordan, not far from the southern Syrian border.

Since its creation in April 2015, the UEFA Foundation for Children, alongside the AFDP and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), has been looking to help refugees who were displaced by the conflict in Syria and especially children and youngsters who were living in the camp.

Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, who is the President of the Jordanian Football Association, mentioned, “powerful mediums such as sport and education have the ability to plant seeds of hope and potentiality even under the most difficult circumstances.”

“Thanks to my friend Aleksander Čeferin, my colleagues at the UEFA Foundation for Children and Lay’s for supporting the Asian Football Development Project’s projects at the camp and for providing the refugee boys and girls with a healthy, quality space that they can use not only to train, but also to build friendships and learn skills that are beneficial on and off the pitch,” Prince Ali added.

A total of 4,480 children and youngsters, including 3,185 boys and 1,295 girls aged between 8 and 20, regularly take part in weekly sports activities, which are supervised by qualified male and female coaches.

In order to organise sports activities and football tournaments, it is essential to have local teachers who can keep the project going. This is why the UEFA Foundation for Children has embarked on a training programme to give coaches the necessary skills to supervise and lead football activities. Since July 2017, 250 adult refugees, including 163 men and 87 women, have benefited from the coaching education that has been available.

In order to give the young inhabitants as much stimulation as possible, monthly football tournaments are organized in the camp. In total, 30 girls’ teams (U13, U15 and U20) and 60 boys’ teams (U13, U15 and U24) have been created, with an average of 20 players per team.

The UEFA Foundation for Children and the AFDP have tried to offer as much expertise as possible and have run workshops on refereeing and how to recover from injury. These sessions have proved to be a success, with 54 referees qualifying to officiate in matches, 21 of whom are women.

Furthermore, experts have been enlisted to touch on social fields, such as how sport can be used as a tool for social cohesion, while advice has also been given on early marriages and conflict resolution. Almost 60 percent of the camp’s inhabitants are under the age of 24, while a fifth are under five.


Photographs, a video and an infographic can be downloaded from the following links:

Video –

Photos –

Infograpic – Za’atari infographic


Our partners


Hope through football

“We play football to become better people – not necessarily better footballers.” This is the main motto of the ‘Goal Sti Ftohia’ (Kick Out Poverty) project, which is operating in Greece in the midst of an unprecedented socio-economic crisis. This project brings together the poorest of the poor – people who are experiencing social exclusion at its most extreme. Homeless people, refugees and recovering drug addicts of all ages – men and women alike – get together at least once a week to play football. For these people, playing football is not about winning games; it is about winning back their lives. This is Greece’s national homeless football team.

A photographer has been following the members of that team as they train together and seek to overcome their personal challenges and difficulties. He attempts to capture the players’ transformation as they go from being social pariahs to community leaders. Through football, their self-belief is gradually restored and the rest of society starts to see them in a different light. They are no longer outcasts; they are now regarded as fighters – as role models.

A programme of visits to refugee camps (also supported by the UEFA Foundation for Children) elevates them yet further to the status of community leaders. The team visit refugee centres, kicking a ball around with child refugees, sending out a message of joy and hope. They have all lost their homes, albeit the Syrian refugees have lost their entire country.

The camera follows the team from their weekly training sessions at a football ground in central Athens to the Homeless World Cup in Glasgow in summer 2016. After capturing their triumphs and tribulations in Scotland, it then follows them on to various refugee camps around Greece, watching them share the joys of the beautiful game with child refugees and anyone else who wishes to join in.

This project highlights football’s tremendous power to transform lives – in this case, the lives of homeless people living in extreme poverty. Through their participation in the Greek homeless football team, they are empowered, not just becoming socially active and rebuilding their lives, but establishing themselves as community leaders, leading by example.
This project is run by the NGO Diogenes, which also publishes the Greek street paper ‘Shedia’.

Logo Diogenis

Logo street football world

Fostering inclusion through football


KICKFAIR seeks to bring children together, uniting refugees and non-refugees through their shared love of football. However, the KICKFAIR concept goes far beyond that. Playing the game is just an initial starting point, giving children the chance to share experiences, using football as a common language. By playing together regularly, children build trust, and that forms the basis for deeper relationships. KICKFAIR has developed various different modules, using elements of football to foster mutual understanding both on and off the pitch. Those modules combine regular games of football with workshops where participants answer questions such as “Where am I from?”, “Where do I feel at home?”, “What makes a home?”, “What do we have in common?”, “In what ways are we different?” and “How do we want to collectively shape our future?”

The overall objective is to foster inclusion by tearing down barriers between children that have built up as a result of inaccurate stories, incomplete information and unfounded fears. It is about dealing with diversity and seeing it as a benefit, while ensuring that everyone has equal opportunities to develop – both on a personal and on a professional level.

The main target group is schools, which are in need of complementary inclusive concepts that will help to ensure mutual understanding and equal opportunities for all children.

logo kickfair

Logo street football world

Kick For Hope – Karak Football Coaching Course

UEFA Foundation for Children extends its support to communities and schools in Jordan.

With the help of the Jordanian Ministry of Education, the Jordanian Football Association and streetfootballworld, the UEFA Foundation For Children and the Asian Football Development Project have provided training in non-violent communication and negotiation skills to 21 physical education teachers and football coaches, both men and women, in order help them to build positive relationships between students.

Early March, the one-week course involved teachers and coaches from 12 schools in the city of Karak, south of the capital, Amman. It provided them with the knowledge and skills necessary to run regular football activities for children and to use the sport as a platform for building self-esteem and encouraging social cohesion by facilitating interaction among children of different origins.

The course was led by streetfootballworld instructor Hiba Jaafil (former captain of the Lebanon women’s national team and current U17 and U19 coach) and former Jordanian national women’s internationals Maryana Haddad and Zina Al-Sadi still playing in the Jordan national team.

After the course, a tournament was held for 100 children from the 12 schools (50 boys and 50 girls, all aged 10 or 11). Through football, a language understood by all, children of different origins came together, cheered each other on, helped each other to win and built lasting friendships.

The programme will be extended to 24 other schools in the south of Jordan over the course of the year. In various joint activities and special events, children from the different schools will play alongside each other in mixed teams rather than against each other, to encourage mutual understanding and acceptance of cultural differences and break down stereotypes and other barriers.

UEFA Foundation for Children supports Brussels Play 4 Peace initiative using sport as an instrument for peace

A UEFA Foundation for Children photo exhibition highlighting the lives of children at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan was staged in Brussels on Sunday 10 April to help mark the UN International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.

The exhibition, showing how football can play a key role in giving meaning to the refugee children’s everyday lives, was part of a sports event organised by the Brussels Play 4 Peace (BP4P) organisation and held at the Stade Roi Baudouin in the Belgian capital.

Almost 4,500 children and young adults – boys and girls aged between 8 and 20 – are involved in sport, and football in particular, at the Zaatari camp. The UEFA Foundation supplied cameras to enable the children to be creative and portray life at the camp through a lens, thereby contributing to the exhibition and promoting it beyond the borders of the camp.

Alongside the exhibition, more than 20 different sports activities were offered to visitors, and proceeds from the day are earmarked for the purchase of sports equipment for homes and hospitals for children and young people.

A minute’s silence was held in memory of the victims of the recent attacks in Brussels, and balloons in Belgium’s colours of black, yellow and red were released into the air.

BP4P promotes the playing of sport and adherence to sport’s values as an educational tool for young people, and nurtures the belief that sport is a crucial vehicle for social stability and dialogue between different political, cultural and religious communities.

The UEFA Foundation for Children reflects UEFA’s wish to play a more active role in society, and makes use of sport to support humanitarian projects linked to children’s rights in areas such as health, education and integration.

The foundation’s objective is also to help children and safeguard their rights, as well as to promote access to sporting activity, facilitating children’s personal development and fostering the integration of minorities.

UEFA Foundation for Children supports Spirit of Soccer in Iraq

Football programme launched to educate children about the danger of landmines

The UEFA Foundation for Children is supporting the Spirit of Soccer project in Iraq, using a programme that emphasises the power of football to educate children about the dangers of landmines and explosive remnants of war. The project includes mine risk education, raising awareness of the danger and promoting behavioural changes.

The humanitarian consequences of violence in Iraq and Syria have been catastrophic. More than 2.2 million Iraqis – half of whom are children under the age of 18 – have been displaced, and are forced to live in camps without any formal education or social structures. One day, they will return home to regions polluted by the legacy of conflict, where landmines, unexploded weapons and ammunition, and improvised explosive devices will be a constant and deadly threat.

The funding provided by the UEFA Foundation for Children will support the training of 150 new football coaches, who will be taught how to deliver mine risk education to over 25,000 Iraqi, Kurdish and Syrian children in 2016.

“Some of these children have experienced violence and trauma, often on a daily basis,” said Spirit of Soccer founder and CEO Scott Lee. “Football can do so much; whether it is giving them skills that could help them survive the war, or just giving them a reason to smile. When you play football, you live in the moment. If we can provide these children with a moment of peace, this will truly be a precious gift.”

José Manuel Durão Barroso, chairman of the UEFA Foundation for Children’s board of trustees, said: “The UEFA Foundation for Children places the well-being of children at the heart of its activities, especially vulnerable children who are suffering as a result of conflict. Given the dangers posed by landmines and other legacies of such conflict, it is absolutely crucial that young people are made fully aware. We applaud and fully support the Spirit of Soccer project on this vital education initiative, and we are very happy that football is once again being deployed as a source of happiness and hope.”

Note to editors:

Spirit of Soccer is an international non-profit organisation that uses the world’s most popular sport to empower and educate young people about the dangers of landmines and unexploded weapons in areas of past or ongoing conflict:

Children’s lives at the Za’atari camp

Nearly 80,000 Syrian refugees – 57 percent of whom are children – live at the Za’atari camp, which is located in the Jordanian desert. The UEFA Foundation for Children, in collaboration with UNHCR and the Asian Football Development Project, is helping children and young people through sports activities, in particular football, to allow them to play and remain children in a situation of war.

This exhibition draws a parallel between three different aspects of children’s lives at the Za’atari camp.

Children at the camp have had the opportunity to show, through their eyes, how life goes on despite the particular context in which they are living. In partnership with a local NGO, these youngsters have benefited from training as photographers, and the UEFA foundation provided cameras to allow them to realise their own exhibition and promote it beyond the borders of the Za’atari camp. The aspiring photographers were very motivated to take part in this project. Using professional cameras was a massive experience for them.

Pascale Cholette, a French photographer who works for the Metasud and Future Learning agencies, felt the great contrast between her freedom and the refugees, who are captive behind fences. Captive herself as a result of her European vision and Western culture, she decided to use the lights of the desert to isolate the youngsters from reality, and to just simply focus on what they are – children.

Rawan Risheq, the Jordanian photographer, had a fascinating experience. She was granted access into mosques and homes, and visits to youth centres and playgrounds enabled her to understand how a refugee’s life is organised, and how the Syrians have adjusted after years in the camp. Many children were happy to be photographed. However, some would barely smile – they seemed like grown adults in children’s bodies. Rawan came across a great deal of talent and so many powerful expressions which held stories of survival within them.

A treasure hunt at Zaatari

Many activities were organised at the Za’atari refugee camp to celebrate the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace on 6 April.

The UEFA Foundation for Children did its bit to mark this important day by organising a treasure hunt for ten teams of children living in the 12th district of the camp. The aim of the game was to find footballs hidden all over the camp by answering questions on topics of general culture and about life in the camp, but also about football and its values, such as fair play, team spirit, friendship, honesty and responsibility.