Football did not let him down
17-year-old Andriy is a handsome blond young man with timid eyes that immediately darken if someone asks the boy about his family and his past. He hates talking about it and retreats into his shell whenever people mention difficulties of everyday life. Andriy matured very early, as he had to help his mother, father and old sick granny. In order to earn a living, the boy is often forced to work in different construction sites and repair works, helping his mom who is a mason.
Family incomes are more than modest, as everything depends on mother’s salary – about one thousand hryvnas a month. It is not enough to make ends meet, since the family has to pay for utilities, food and medicines... Andriy’s father had to quit his job of a school carpenter to care for his sickly mother. It is Andriy’s support when he is not in his technical college, as well as assistance from church and from the charitable foundation “Caritas Ukraine” that helps the family to survive. “They provide us with clothes and footwear. In summer I may travel to the seaside or to the Carpathians with them. Their overall support is significant”, tells Andriy about people he met in the foundation – social workers and his new friends.
Andriy’s mood changes radically when someone talks about football – his biggest passion and love. It becomes immediately clear that football is something that gives him strength and encouragement, that it is his biggest joy in life. “Caritas Ukraine” supports a football team, and Andriy does his best not to miss a single practice. His greatest delight is the opportunity to meet someone from FC “Dynamo Kyiv” or even to play against them. This sport is everything for the boy: practices, games and competitions are all that he can think about, and the football field is the place where he spends his free time.
“Football is something that prevents him from hitting the bottom”, believes Olha Lyashenko, psychologist of “Caritas Ukraine”. Because of their craving for better life, children from low-income or socially disadvantaged families often find themselves in bad companies, develop bad habits and get into trouble. For her, talented and rational Andriy is a true miracle, an “exception from the rule”.
Young man dreams of becoming a professional football player; he prepares to every game thoroughly and plans to participate in the professional try-outs in the Dynamo’s football school. “In order to do so, I will have to quit smoking. It will be difficult, but I can do it”, claims Andriy.
About 60 thousand of Ukrainian children are registered as vulnerable. Many of them are exposed to violence, are deprived of parental care, or live with HIV; many children live or work on streets, come from low-income families, become victims of violence, have disabilities, or are in conflict with the law.
UNICEF continues to work with its national partners in Ukraine to strengthen social services, enabling families and communities to become loving and protective environments for children. EURO 2012 provides opportunities to raise awareness about children’s rights in Ukraine encourages all stakeholders to join efforts for the benefit of Ukraine’s children.