Bhutanese kids shine at the F4F programme in Russia
The Sixth season of Football for Friendship (F4F) Programme implemented by Gazprom, the Official partner of FIFA and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, concluded successfully in Moscow.
The programme, which took place from 8th15th June 2018, brought together young football players and young journalists aged 12 years from 211 countries and regions. The young footballers were united in 32 International Teams of Friendship, and were accompanied by young journalists who were selected to report on the Football for Friendship events. Bhutan joined the programme for the first time and was represented by Rigzin Tenzin and Kinley Yangzom, who were selected as the young footballer and young journalist respectively.
Rigzin played as a goalkeeper in the “King Cobra” team, along with his 12 year old teammates from Montenegro, Netherlands, Djibouti, Guam and Namibia. Rigzin put on a stellar performance by making several critical saves in all the qualifying games to take his team to the 2nd spot in their group. However, the King Cobra Team were just a few goals short of qualifying for the quarter- finals, only losing to the eventual champions, the Chimpanze team.
Speaking about hid experience in Russia, Rigzin said “I am happy to have been given the opportunity to represent my country in the Football for Friendship programme in Moscow. The programme has helped me to make a lot of friends from different countries, and discuss, practice and play football with them. I was also given the opportu- nity to participate in the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup which is an experience that I will never forget. This has been an amazing journey and I hope to keep in touch with all my new friends from around the world.”
It was no different for Kinley Yangzom who acted as the young journalist and covered all key events on equal terms with the adult reporters. A student of Lobesa Lower Secondary School in Punakha District, Kinley got a chance to learn from the well-known journalists representing the leading Russian sports media outlets, as a part of their workshops. The Young Journalists prepared news for renowned international media houses and published daily issues of the children’s Football for Friendship newspaper.
The F4F program consisted of a three day International Friendship Camp in Moscow, for the young ambassadors. The training camp was followed by the final championship that was held on 12th June 2018 at the Sapsan Arena Stadium. The Championship which consisted of multi-cultural teams acted as an effective tool in promoting mutual respect, understanding and support among all the participating kids.
The programme ended with the International Children’s Forum during which children shared their experiences and held discussions with their peers, famous footballers and journalists. The forum was addressed by Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Olga Golodets, legendary Spanish goalkeeper, Iker Casillas and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom Victor Zubkov among other renowned delegates.
Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Olga Golodets presented a festive speech of the Russian President Vladimir Putin on the Football for Friendship Programme: “I strongly believe that such largescale initiatives as Football for Friendship carry out an important mission. They support youth sports, promote values of a healthy lifestyle, teach children to respect representatives of different nationalities and cultures.”
On the occasion of the Sixth International Football for Friendship Children’s Forum, Mr. Victor Zubkov, chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom said, “Today the delegates from 211 countries and regions come here to participate in this event. In comparison to 2013, when we started Football for Friendship programme, the geography of the project increased 26 times.” In adding that he said that over the past five years more than 4,000 kids took part in the programme and the total number of supporters of Football for Friendship exceeded three million people.”
On 14th June, Rigzin got the unique opportunity to be a part of the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup as Bhutan’s flag bearer. The young ambassadors also got to watch the opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Speaking about the programme, the President for Bhutan Football Federation, Ugen Tsechup said, “We are delighted to have participated in the Football for Friendship Programme through our young ambassadors, Rigzin and Kinley. It is our constant endeavour to use football as a tool to instil core values, break barriers and promote integration among children, which coincides with the key values endorsed by the F4F Programme.”
“We are positive that the kids will act as ambassadors of all the important lessons and fundamental human values that they have learnt in the programme and spread it among their friends and family in Bhutan. On behalf of the Bhutan Football Federation, we congratulate F4F and Gazprom in successfully conducting this impactful programme and providing the young ambassadors a wonderful platform to celebrate friendship through the unifying power of football,” added the President.