Representatives of the UEFA Foundation for Children travelled to Cyprus in April at the invitation of a new foundation founded by active footballers and veteran players whose aim is to use the power of football and its players to assist socially vulnerable groups.
The association, Goal in Life, is the first charity of its kind – a voluntary body comprised exclusively of footballers, established on the initiative of Cyprus and AEK Larnaca FC captain Constantinos Charalambides. He succeeded in rounding up 22 founding members – active footballers and veterans – representing teams from towns and cities across the Mediterranean island.
The legal basis for the foundation has been laid, a board has been set up, and the statutes are already in force. Support has been forthcoming from the Cyprus Football Association, the Cypriot government and businesses on the island.
The official launch ceremony is today (15 May) at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, in presence of the president of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, and the minister of education and culture, Costas Kadis.
“Football is the biggest social phenomenon, not only in Cyprus but worldwide,” Constantinos Charalambides says. “Goal in Life uses the power of footballers to shape society on two important pillars: as a charity, collecting funds and resources and giving them to those who need them most, and through volunteering, in order to empower others to promote humanity, mutual assistance and unity, and move away from fanaticism and crime.”
Goal in Life has identified various ways of achieving its objectives. These include providing financial support to vulnerable groups, fundraising for specific causes and initiatives, and visiting schools and hospitals as a form of civic engagement.
Goal in Life membership is open to footballers aged 18 or over, from Cyprus or abroad, who are registered with the Cyprus Football Association, as well as to individuals, companies and organisations interested in providing financial support through annual subscriptions or donations.
Members are encouraged to lead by example, to show that all players – Cypriot or not – are united by a common goal, namely to help society. They are also asked to speak out against violence, drugs, crime and other social ills, and convey other equally important social messages.
“Since players are idols, through their actions they are able to penetrate the different layers of society and actually help people in need,” Goal in Life explains.
Goal in Life and the Cypriot education ministry have agreed to set up a two-year schools programme, to be launched in September. The association will cover the cost of teachers staying on after working hours to provide additional courses in sport and physical education. Another of the programme’s aims is to promote the essential values of sport among youngsters.
The UEFA Foundation for Children is proud of the players in Cyprus who have initiated this unique programme, using football and their prominence as a force for good in society. We welcome this initiative and hope that it will be echoed by other players all over Europe.