Everyone is a winner

There are no differences among the children on the court – they are all trying to play the best they can.

Vladimir Banic
The score wasn’t important – everybody is a winner.
UNICEF Serbia/2017/Banic

27 December 2017

Bujanovac, Serbia – Fazar, who is ten, and Nazir, who is a year older, are waiting impatiently for their game to start.

They are looking at the clock and counting the last minutes of the game that is happening on the field. They’re excited.

They are wearing team jerseys. Nazir is in a black jersey, Fazar in an orange one. Their teams represent refugee and migrant children from Presevo and Bujanovac.

The team from the Vranje Refugee Reception Centre is also here, along with seven more teams made up of children from this part of Serbia.

They all want to see their team winning the tournament organised by UNICEF, with the support from its partner organisation the Danish Refugee Council, and with the financial support of the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).

A series of good dribbles and shots can be seen on the court. Goals are scored, and some of them are magnificent.

Players raise their arms in the air celebrating, or they are sighing with disappointment after missed shots.

There are no differences among the children on the court – they are all trying to play the best they can. The spirit of good sportsmanship and fair play is strong among the players.

It’s the same on the stands. Supporters are cheering in Farsi, Arabic, Albanian and Serbian. After the game is over – they shake hands. Points are added up, and everything is being set-up for the next round of the tournament.

I couldn’t go to school. And that was the only place where we had a football field. There were several attacks near the school and my parents thought it was safer to stay at home. That’s why I didn’t play football for more than a year.

Nazir (11)

In a break, between two games, Nazir and Fazar talk about their love of football.

“Every morning, as soon as I wake up I play football. Immediately after breakfast”, says Fazar, and adds: “My parents are very happy when they see me playing football because they know how much I love this game. First I shoot on my own, and when my friends come we spend the entire day outside, on the football field.”

Nazir explains why he had to stop playing in Afghanistan. He says he’s from Mazar-i-Sharif where terrorist attacks were frequent.

“I couldn’t go to school. And that was the only place where we had a football field. There were several attacks near the school and my parents thought it was safer to stay at home. That’s why I didn’t play football for more than a year.”

He says it was very difficult for him during that break.

Nazir uses every opportunity to play football.
UNICEF Serbia/2017/Banic
Nazir uses every opportunity to play football.

I’m good at shooting, dribbling, running. I can play well as a forward.

Nazir (11)

“I’m good at shooting, dribbling, running. I can play well as a forward”, he explains, his eyes shining.

Nazir also uses every opportunity to play football. He says he starts in the Refugee Reception Centre where he lives with his family, then continues in school.

Recently he has started training at the local club, so sometimes he must change his uniform three times a day.

His wishes are modest – to play exactly for this local club - BSK Bujanovac - in the future.

Fazar is much more optimistic. When asked the same question, he answers without any dilemma that he would like to play for Barcelona.

Fazar, 10, loves playing football.
UNICEF Serbia/2017/Banic
Fazar, 10, loves playing football.

I would like to play for Barcelona!

Fazar (10)

He was able to show off his talent during the tournament. However, his team didn’t win the tournament, neither did Nazir’s.

Yet, this doesn't matter because the final score was not the most important objective of the competition.

That’s because, as Fazar’s team wrote on a big sign: EVERYONE IS A WINNER.