Youngsters shine in football friendship programme, promoting Laos on world stage

Young Lao footballer attends the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup in Moscow

The sixth season of the Football for Friendship (F4F) Programme run by Gazprom, the official partner of FIFA and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, enjoyed another successful edition in Moscow this month, when two very proud Lao youngsters acted as ambassadors for their country on the world stage.
Laos took part in the programme for the first time and was represented by 12-year-olds Thavisinh Phichit and Physithxay Vongkhamsy, who were selected to be a young footballer and young journalist respectively.

12-year-olds Thavisinh (left) and Physithxay (second left) at the F4F Training Camp in Russia.

The programme, which took place from June 8-15, brought together children, all aged 12, from 211 countries, who took part either as football players or journalists to report on the programme as it unfolded.
Physithxay, chosen to be in the young journalists group, covered all the key events on equal terms with the adult reporters. In doing so, he was able to learn from well-known journalists representing the leading Russian sports media outlets, as a part of their workshops.
The youthful journalists prepared news for renowned international media houses and published daily issues of the children’s Football for Friendship newspaper.
The participants chosen to be footballers were grouped in 32 International Teams of Friendship.
According to Gazprom, Thavisinh played as a midfielder in the “Rothschild’s Giraffe” team, along with his 12-year-old teammates from Azerbaijan, Costa Rica, St. Lucia, Kyrgyz Republic and Comoros.
Thavisinh put on a stellar performance by maintaining possession of the ball, making several critical tackles, and taking the ball ahead to the strikers. The team performed exceedingly well in all of the qualifying games but were just a few goals short of qualifying for the quarterfinals.
Speaking about his experience in Russia, Thavisinh said “I am happy to have been given the opportunity to represent my country in the Football for Friendship programme in Moscow. The programme 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,” he added.
The F4F programme 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 June 12 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 children.
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.
Olga Golodets presented a speech from Russian President Vladimir Putin on the Football for Friendship programme, saying “I strongly believe that such large-scale initiatives as Football for Friendship carry out an important mission. They support youth sports, promote the value of a healthy lifestyle, and teach children to respect representatives of different nationalities and cultures.”
Also speaking at the Sixth International Football for Friendship Children’s Forum, Gazprom Chairman Mr Zubkov said “Today delegates from 211 countries and regions come here to participate in this event. In comparison to 2013, when we started the Football for Friendship programme, the geography of the project has increased 26 times.”
“Over the past five years more than 4,000 children have taken part in the programme while the total number of supporters of Football for Friendship exceeded 3 million people,” he added.
On June 14, Thavisinh was excited to be a part of the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup as Laos’ flag bearer. The young ambassadors also got to watch the opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Speaking about the programme, General Secretary of the Lao Football Federation Ms Kanya Keomany said “We are delighted to have participated in the Football for Friendship Programme through our young ambassadors, Thavisinh and Physithxay. It is our constant endeavour 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 boys who took part will act as ambassadors of all the important lessons and fundamental human values that they learnt during the programme and spread them among their friends and family in Laos.”
“On behalf of the Lao Football Federation, we congratulate F4F and Gazprom in successfully conducting this impactful programme and providing the young ambassadors with a wonderful platform to celebrate friendship through the unifying power of football,” she added.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update June 27, 2017 )


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