Samoa Football > News > Football for Friendship > Football For Friendship young heroes from Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands return home from Russia to spread the word about the magic of football

Football For Friendship young heroes from Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands return home from Russia to spread the word about the magic of football

PRESS RELEASE:  12-year-old promising football players and 12-year-old aspiring journalists from Australia, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tonga and Vanuatu have returned to their home countries as Football For Friendship Young Ambassadors after attending the
2018 Gazprom International Children’s Social Programme, Football For Friendship (F4F) in Moscow.

In the lead up to the FIFA World Cup 2018TM, the sixth Football For Friendship programme was attended by 1500 children and was covered by over 300 international
media outlets to spread the values embodied by the beautiful game to the world. Now these kids will bring the values learned at this rapidly growing global social programme
to their own countries in the name of friendship. F4F consisted of training for designated Young Players, masterclasses for designated Young Journalists, the showpiece Football For Friendship World Championship and finished with Football For Friendship International Children’s Forum.

On 12 June, the Football for Friendship World Championship was held at the Sapsan Arena, home of local professional club FC Kazanka Moscow. In total, 32 International Teams of Friendship were formed on the friendship principle, with each team named after rare animals on the verge of extinction to increase the interest of younger generations in preserving the world’s fauna.

Team Chimpanzee – Football For Friendship World Champions 2018 Team ‘Chimpanzee’ won the tournament and were presented with the Nine Values Cup, representing the nine values of the programme: friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions and honour. Its team comprised of young players from Wales, Kenya, Dominican Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Philippines and Brazil showcasing a feature of the F4F programme with athletes of different nationalities, genders and physical abilities uniting to play as one team.

At the International Football For Friendship Children’s Forum, personal endorsements from legendary Spanish goalkeeper, Iker Casillas, and Russian Under 17s manager and former international striker, Aleksandr Kerzhakov, took place. Russian President, Vladimir Putin, sent his own message, which was read out by the Deputy Prime Minister for Social Affairs, Olga Golodets To cap off the programme, all participants were invited to attend the opening match of the FIFA World Cup 2018TM. The delegation of almost 1500 children watched Russia beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the tournament opener with some even participating as flag wavers in the opening ceremony, capping off an experience that will live long in the memories of these 12 year-old Football For Friendship Young Ambassadors. The official Football For Friendship App has been released so that participants can continue to tell the F4F story all year round, showing the commitment organisers have
to building a generation of connected, open people.

“I really like the fact that now that I’ve returned home after Football for Friendship, I will be able to show my friends videos and photos from all events as well as interesting
facts about all the countries of the world that are so wonderfully described in the app,” said Young Ambassador of Football for Friendship, Noah Borg (12, Australia). F4F Global Director, Vladimir Serov, told the children before an opening day crowd at Moscow’s Spartak Football Academy: “In one team, playing together there are kids of
different nationalities, different genders, different physical abilities. “I believe together we will be able to help them, our young participants, to find new friends from different countries, to learn how to play together, how to live together … and I believe they will show people what the world could be without discrimination, without
racism, war and violence.”

This opportunity was brought to the Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific region by Football For Friendship’s global football partnership with Lengo Football Academy and its local partner, Reagan Milstein Foundation.

Emanuel Saakai, founder and Director of Football at Lengo Football Academy has heaped praise on what was a once in a lifetime opportunity for many young participants. “What an incredible life changing experience for a whole generation of bright kids. Now they can take the F4F message to their peers in their home countries and spread the message of peace and equality so that they can grow together through the magic of football.”

The seventh instalment of the F4F programme will be held in 2019 with details soon to
be announced.


Participant quotes:
Young Player: Peniata Maiava
Peniata Soul Maiava said: “I made so many friends, learned different languages, skills
and techniques in football, different countries and their cultures, different flags that
belong to certain countries. And we also shared Samoa’s culture among other
countries. For me, it was fun; I liked the kids playing with me, like my team. I learned
some Russian words like saying good morning ‘dobroe utro’ and one of the skills I
learned was the panna move, in football it is when a player dribbles the ball between the
legs of a player from the opposing team.

Young Journalist: Semisi Semisi
Mr. Semisi said: “The highlight was of course the 2018 FIFA World Cup opening
ceremony and match, as I sat down in my mind I thought it was just a dream, because I
never thought I would be there. I thought the game was a bit one sided, but the opening
ceremony was really entertaining and then the next day we departed, which was a sad
and emotional day for everyone.”

Programme overview

8-11 June 2018 – International Friendship Camp

12 June 2018 – Football for Friendship World Championship

13 June – ​ International Football For Friendship Children’s Forum

14 June – Opening match FIFA World Cup 2018 – RUS v KSA

Official resources of the programme:
F4F Photo and video material:
F4F Facebook:
F4F Youtube:
F4F Instagram:
F4F Twitter:
F4F website:
Global partner::
Lengo Football Academy (Australia/Tanzania/NZ/PI):
Supporting local partner
Reagan Milstein Foundation (NZ/PI)
Local Media contacts:
Anthony Grima (AUS)
Shane Boyle (NZ/PI)