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 8th-15th 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. Bangladesh joined the programme for the second time and was represented by Md Golam Rafi Khan and Rafat Shams, who were selected as the young footballer and young journalist respectively.
Md Golam Rafi Khan was a part of the “Galapagos Sea Lion” team, along with his 12 year old teammates from Cyprus, Liberia, China PR, Turks and Caicos Islands and Anguilla. MD Golam put on a stellar performance in his role as a defender by making critical tackles and restricting numerous goals in the qualifying games to take his team to the 2nd position in his group. However, the Galapagos Sea Lion Team were just a few goals short of qualifying for the quarter- finals.
Speaking about his experience in Russia, MD Golam Rafi 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 opportunity 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 Rafat Shams who acted as the young journalist and covered all key events on equal terms with the adult reporters. The young ambassador from Dhaka 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 large-scale 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. Over the past five years more than 4,000 kids took part in the programme. While the total number of supporters of Football for Friendship exceeded three million people”
On 14th June, MD Golam Rafi got the unique opportunity to be a part of the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup as Bangladesh’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, Mr.Harun Ur Rashid Exco – Member , Bangladesh Football Federation & Mr. Ahsan Ahmed – Head Of Media , BFF from Bangladesh Football Federation) said, “We are delighted to have participated in the Football for Friendship Programme through our young ambassadors, MD Golam Rafi and Rafat Shams. It is our constant endeavor to use football as a tool to instill 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 Bangladesh. On behalf of the Bangladesh 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.”
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