UNICEF hosted Football Cup for vulnerable children
KYIV, Ukraine, 4 June 2012 – Last week, UNICEF hosted a football tournament for vulnerable children from Kyiv, Donetsk, Odesa, Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk regions. The team from Donetsk won the Cup.
Held on 31 May, only a week before EURO 2012, this tournament drew attention to children's rights, particularly the right to protection. It also promoted sport as a tool for integrating and assisting socially excluded children.
Uniting in support of vulnerable children
Each team consisted of girls and boys, aged 12 to 16, and included children living on the streets, orphans and children deprived of parental care, children from poor 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.
In Ukraine, about 60,000 children are considered vulnerable. Many children are exposed to violence, drug abuse and poverty. Children who are orphaned or deprived of parental care, who live with HIV, who are 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 at Foundation Caritas Ukraine, which helps vulnerable children in Kyiv. She brought two teams to the UNICEF Cup this year.
UNICEF works with local NGOs throughout Ukraine in organizing the event. The first team was established by Charitable Foundation ‘Way Home’, with UNICEF support, in Odesa in 2008.
‘All the children are winners’
The tournament was also supported by celebrities and athletes, who participated in the event and conducted a concert for the children afterward.
Ukrainian singer Alexander Borysenko took part in the event, conducting warm-up exercises for the children. "It was a great pleasure to see how cool these kids play!" he said.
The Ukrainian Philanthropic Marketplace, the Kyiv State City Administration, the youth organization AIESEC in Ukraine, Sanoma Media and the newspaper Today also supported the tournament.
Famous Ukrainian football player Vladislav Vaschuk said, “As a sportsman, I know that football is always a competition where everyone fights to win. But today, all the children are winners, because they have already overcome difficult circumstances in their lives with the help of football.”
UNICEF supports sport for development initiatives worldwide. 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. Through this and other initiatives, UNICEF will continue to encourage civil society and the private sector to unite and act in the best interest of Ukrainian children.