The 2006 FIFA World Cup brings together football stars and young players of the world’s most popular sport to help children affected by conflict and violence. Click below to meet young people from around the world who have learned important life lessons on the football pitch – and watch for more youth profiles to come!
Football offers Lela, 17, a chance to travel outside Georgia
NEW YORK, USA – For 17-year-old Lela, football is more than a game. It is a chance to overcome her impoverished background and find a better future.
Rocio Bello Bautista, 15, builds resilience through street football in Peru
NEW YORK, USA – On a gloomy Thursday afternoon after classes end, Rocio Vanessa Bello Bautista, 15, has no time to waste. She is on her way to a local playground in Villa El Salvador, Peru, to start a football match.
Football helps Nene, 12, cope with street violence in Angola
NEW YORK, USA – Roque Santerio is the main market in Luanda, the capital of Angola, and one of the poorest and most dangerous places in the world. Locals claim it is the biggest market in all of Africa, and while that is open to debate, few doubt its reputation as an epicentre of crime.
Naomi Siombua, 15, builds confidence playing football in a Kenyan slum
NAIROBI, Kenya - Naomi Siombua, 15, grew up in the slums, often doing her homework by candlelight. Her favorite team is Chelsea and she credits football with helping her avoid the violence that has ravaged many of her friends' lives.
For Traore Aziz, 13, football heals scars of war in Côte d' Ivoire
NEW YORK, USA – Three years ago, Traore Aziz had lost just about everything, including both of his parents. Just 10 at the time, Traore found himself alone, caught up in the midst of Côte d' Ivoire’s civil war. He was forced to focus all of his energy on day-to-day survival and could no longer do the one thing he loved most – play football.
Football helps Harold Chavez, 14, find peace in a Colombia shantytown
MONTERO, Colombia – In the harsh shadows thrown by two bare bulbs, Harold Chavez, 14, grinds manioc to make meat pasties that his mother will sell in the morning at her roadside stall in the northern Colombian city of Monteria.
Mahamat Ali, 13, finds an outlet in football at a Chad refugee camp
AMBOKO CAMP, Chad – Mahamat Ali, 13, is a refugee from the Central African Republic (CAR) - one of 28,000 people living in the Amboko camp in southern Chad. He fled to Chad three years ago after his parents were killed during a coup d'etat.
Football helps Ivna Chérie, 11, forget violence in Haiti
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – On a sweltering Saturday morning when many Haitians are staying out of the sun, Ivna Chérie is playing football with her schoolmates on the marram pitch of a dilapidated stadium outside the capital, Port-Au-Prince.
Thamanoon Vejakul, 14, looks to football to escape bullying in Thailand
KHAO LAK, Thailand – In the driving rain, Thamanoon Vejakul and his teammates line up for the customary march out onto the pitch and formal handshake with their opponents before the match.
Abbas Jazzi, 16, lives for football in a tough neighbourhood in Iran
TEHRAN, Iran – At 6 o’clock on a Friday morning most teenagers are sound asleep and will be for a good few hours to come. But 16 year-old Abbas Jazzi has no time for sleeping. It might be the day of rest in the Islamic Republic, but Abbas is more interested in perfecting his technique on the football pitch.
Football brings hope to Zhang Kai, 16, and other former street children in China
ZHENG ZHOU, China – Sixteen year-old Zhang Kai had many dreams, but after his parents divorced, he found himself alone and helpless in this city of 7 million people.