EURO 2012: UNICEF children cup held in Ukraine
KYIV, Ukraine 31 May, 2012 – UNICEF hosted a football cup for vulnerable children today from Kyiv, Donetsk, Odesa, Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk regions. Just days before the start of EURO 2012, this football tournament took place in Kyiv aiming to draw public’s attention to key issues of children's rights protection in Ukraine and to promote football as one of the ways to help vulnerable children.Children participating in UNICEF Cup came from different regions of Ukraine aged 12-16. Each team consisted of girls and boys, including children living on the streets, orphans and children deprived of parental care, children from poor and large families and neglected children.
"Sport unites us. We believe football gives a chance for a better life to vulnerable children. Football is an important element in children’s education and rehabilitation. That is why UNICEF works with partners to help children in difficult circumstances, to take them away from the streets and to prevent risky behavior by engaging them in football,"said Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine.
Children number over 8 million and about 60,000 children are registered as vulnerable. Many children are exposed to violence, abuse drugs and live in poverty, which increases their vulnerability to rights violations. Children who are orphaned or deprived of parental care, living with HIV, living or working on the streets, who have disabilities, and who are in conflict with the law, are some of the most vulnerable.
"Football - is what keeps kids from falling to the bottom," said Olga Lyashenko, psychologist Foundation Caritas Ukraine, who helps children from crisis families in Kyiv. She brought two teams to the UNICEF CUP this year. UNICEF supports the football teams of vulnerable children in cooperation with local non-governmental groups throughout Ukraine. The first team was established by Charitable Foundation "Way Home" with UNICEF support in Odesa in 2008.
In Kyiv, the UNICEF football cup was also supported by celebrities and famous sportsmen who came to encourage children and participate in the stretching warm up exercises and in the concert for children after the tournament.
Vladislav Vaschuk, a famous Ukrainian football player (National Ukrainian Football Team and FC “Dynamo” 1993-2008) also joined in. “As the sportsman I know that football is always a competition where everyone fights to win. But today all children are the winners, because they have been already overcoming difficult circumstances in their life with the help of football,” he said.
UNICEF supports sport for development initiatives worldwide. In countries at peace and wa, these activities are being used to promote good health, encourage education, create child-friendly spaces and warn about harmful effects of smoking, alcohol and drug-abuse. UNICEF will continue to encourage civil society and private sector to unite and act in the best interest of Ukrainian children.
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