Football helping Romani youngsters to succeed in life

Thanks to football, two teenagers from the Romani community in the Romanian capital Bucharest are looking positively towards new horizons

What can a girl achieve in football?

Growing up in Azerbaijan, Elvira Askerzade was told that football wasn’t a game for girls. That, and the death of her mother, would have been enough for many to give up their dream, but not Elvira. Her determination, the support of her coaches and her overriding love of football kept her on track, and today she plays as a goalkeeper for the Azerbaijan under-19 national side. This is her inspiring story.

Bringing back memories: Football relieves dementia

Malcolm has dementia, and uses Aberdeen’s remarkable “Football Memories” project to remember and re-live precious moments from his life as fan.

Kimpembe: “We try to send that message out”

We know it’s not easy to deal with discrimination in this world and we know that we can get our message across through football in terms of respect and loyalty. We try to send that message out and we know that football is the number one sport in the world. Although it isn’t easy, if everyone puts in the effort, we can improve that area.

What is Equal Game?

  • European football is more diverse and multi-cultural than ever.
  • Our competitions and grassroots projects feature players and fans from all backgrounds.
  • And for UEFA it is important to communicate that football is for all.
  • Respect is a social responsibility initiative launched in 2008.
  • For the last 4 years, this initiative has featured the message of No To Racism.
  • UEFA is now evolving this message to promote inclusion, diversity and accessibility across not only ethnicity but also gender, age, sexual orientation, all abilities, and social backgrounds.
  • The new campaign gives all football lovers in Europe a voice to share what football means to them.
  • The new respect campaign is called #EqualGame
  • Because everyone is entitled to enjoy football. No matter who you are, where you’re from or how you play.
  • On the pitch we’re all the same.

My Game

Dušan Tadić (footballer, Croatia): I think (football) has had a big influence on me. I think it has improved me a lot and developed me as a person. That’s why I think it’s important that kids play a sport, no matter whether it’s football, basketball, tennis, volleyball, anything. I think it’s important that they play a sport because it brings a lot of joy, a lot of happiness. There are some disappointments, too, of course, but you’re surrounded by good and normal people, and everyone fights for themselves.

Eniola Aluko (footballer, England): For me, football is a gift. I grew up playing football not really knowing how I was good or why I was good at football. In my local area, there were a lot of boys, so for me, football was my quickest way of being accepted. Playing the game was to be accepted amongst boys, and then I quickly became the girl that was better than the boys. So, it became an identity for me, playing football, being cool because I could play, and the boys thought I was cool because I could play. So, from a young age, even though I’m different from the boys, or different in terms of my background, it’s something that actually became acceptance.

Raheem Sterling (footballer, England): Everyone should have the opportunity to play football if they love it. They should have the right facilities. Not everyone comes from a great background, not everyone has lavish things. Some people have to build their way up. I love the way they’re building loads of facilities for young kids now to be able to showcase their talent, their ability, so in the future, they can really have a chance at playing at the high level.

Vujadin Savić (footballer, Serbia): I think football is a great opportunity for different cultures to mix, to make friendships and to see the best in people. I don’t think you should take everything from one culture, but you have to take the positive things; respect them. For example, I’ve been at a lot of clubs and I’ve played with players from Africa and they were all my friends; there’s just no place for racism. Football can make people get to know each other and realise that everyone is equal.

Edin Džeko (footballer, Bosnia and Herzegovina): Certainly you start to learn from a young age, all the basic things that every player needs. I think that the work ethic is paramount, regardless of the talent. There were a lot of talented players in my generation, who maybe didn’t work hard enough. I think that the most important thing one can say to the young players is to work a hundred per cent from a young age and then anything is possible.

Igor Akinfeev (goalkeeper , Russian Federation): In terms of the other lads that we’ve had in the team, then each one of them tells us about their experiences, their outlook on life and their homeland. I, personally, really enjoy that side of things and these little chats give you a real insight into them as people. I think we’re all people and we’re all equal. We all have the right to lead our lives the way we see fit.

Paul Pogba (footballer, France): We try to be a role model for everyone. We also have to convey the message that everyone can do a sport like football. It makes people happy. When we became world champions, we were all together. Every race came together, we hugged and kissed each other. It was wonderful and that’s what football can give to people all around the world. Sport can bring people together and that’s the purpose of this campaign, to make people aware that football is for everyone. It’s not for a single person, it’s not for a single skin colour. It’s for everyone.

Gerard Piqué (footballer, Spain): It was very emotional. It had a very special meaning, of course, because of everything that Abidal had gone through, but also all of his teammates. ‘Puyi’ [Carles Puyol] did something that honours him as the captain he was, because he gave him the chance to lift that trophy and he gave him the armband. From a sporting point of view, it was one of the best games I recall as an FC Barcelona player. And that gesture was the cherry on the cake on a historic day at Wembley, where else?

Luis Figo (UEFA, Portugal): Football brings about a feeling of passion and love. Football is universal. It does not matter what part of the world you are in or which race you are, it does not matter which friends you may or may not have. I think it's a sport that integrates and one in which you have passion for what you do. It is a unique sport and one that can change the world. That's why it's a sport that I learned to love and that I still do.

Maycon (footballer, Brazil): I think that in Brazil, many people don’t choose the path of crime because they have football and dream of becoming footballers, with football providing a much calmer and better life than resorting to crime. I think football offers an exit path away from many of the difficulties that we live with in our country and that aren’t good. We can dream big thanks to football.

And many more…

Everyone can play

IBSA event at the Champions Festival in Madrid 2019

We Wear The Same Shirt

Discover the world on a football pitch

Special training for special kids with Lithuanian champions FK Suduva

Lewandowski And Co support Amputee Football

The Polish FA and stars of the national team gave a huge boost to amputee football in their country by taking part in a special penalty shootout challenge.

#EqualGame in Russia

The Russian national team welcomed ten children to their training session as part of a therapeutic sport programme.

And many more…