Thanks to the UEFA Foundation for Children and the Football Association of the Czech Republic (FAČR), 100 young people in precarious situations in the Prague region attended the UEFA European Under-21 Championship final between Sweden and Portugal at the Eden Stadium in the Czech capital.
Two local groups received 50 tickets each for the showpiece occasion. One group was the Children’s Home association, which helps children and adolescents who are marginalised or in difficult social situations, as well as orphans, homeless youngsters and children from the Roma minority.
“The Under-21 final is a very important event,” said Martin Lněnička from the Children’s Home, “and we were very surprised, happy and excited to be part of it. We all realised that it was a huge honour for us to share in football’s fever. We really appreciated this opportunity.”
“Children in our house live almost the same lives as other youngsters – school, hobbies, fun, shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc. They live in family groups and they are supervised by teachers, and they spend their time like other young persons.”
What can football bring into these youngsters’ lives? “In general, sport helps a lot in difficult life situations,” Martin Lněnička explained. “Football is fun for everyone, boys and girls, and most of them have tried it. That’s the reason why they can understand the game. Personally, they love Ronaldo and Messi, and they know most of the famous players from the UEFA Champions League. They also have their favourite players in our national team, and now in the Under-21 category as well.”
For these young people, the invitation to a major European competition final was a fantastic experience. Through the realisation of this dream, the Foundation hopes that the experience will give the youngsters a glimmer of hope and a boost in their life.