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Celebration of football for children from Eastern Ukraine

© UNICEF / Ukraine / 2014 / A.Krepkih

KYIV, 4 September 2014 – Children from Eastern Ukraine took part in the opening ceremony of friendly football match between national teams of Ukraine and Moldova within joint initiative of UNICEF and Football Federation of Ukraine.Thirty eight children and adolescents from different cities of Donetsk and Luhansk oblast accompanied football players to the pitch of the Olympic stadium and held flags along with the music of anthems. Seven more children were watching the ceremony and sitting at the stand together with Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine

Before the start of the ceremony the young participants were not afraid but rather nervous, wondering if their partners, most of whom currently stay in the East, would be able to see them on TV.

Internally displaced children are currently living in Pushcha-Vodytsia (Kyiv) and patronized by Charity Cund “I believe in Ukraine” («Я вірю в Україну»).

Sport events like this match are aimed not only at attracting attention of society to the issues of vulnerable children, but also are true memorable event for children. Besides participation in the opening ceremony of the football match, children took their chance to explore the real football pitch and enjoy the biggest stadium in Ukraine from inside. Before the match, they also drew inspiring pictures with their wishes to the national team, practiced singing Ukrainian anthem and received presents from UNICEF which would be very useful at school.

© UNICEF / Ukraine / 2014 / A.Krepkih

One of the youngest participants signed his drawing: “I’m Serhiy from Bryanka, I came here by bus to have a rest. Wish you luck, strength, self-confidence and victory.”

Giovanna Barberis stressed that football brings new positive emotions to children, helps them to recover self-belief and overcome psychological stress. According to rapid assessment conducted by UNICEF in spring, every second child in Donetsk oblast aged 7-18 has at least once witnessed military actions. Many children in the Eastern Ukraine live in permanent anxiety and fear. Psychosocial support is what they urgently need.

According to State Emergency Service of Ukraine, the number of internally displaced children has reached at least 76,000 throughout country. UNICEF in partnership with charity funds and NGO’s continues to provide support to children, such as humanitarian aid, education kits, psychosocial support, as well as facilitating the right to education in areas affected by conflict and running an educational campaign on mine and UXO risk awareness.


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: Join us on Twitter, Facebook and ВКонтакте



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