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Playing football girls and boys support each other.

Kyiv, Ukraine 22 June 2017“It was my father who taught me to play football. First, he trained me to be a goalkeeper. And I did that for a while. But then I wanted to take a crack at other positions, and I decided to become a forward. So now I am a striker in my school team,” she says.

Dasha at UNICEF Football Cup during the break between the games

On the field, Dasha’s skills are very noticeable. The 11 years old has played football since she was seven and her passion is clear. Her team, Myrnohrad school participated in the finals of the UNICEF Football Cup and competed against a team from Mariupol. Unfortunately, they did not get the trophy.

Her football team has won only one cup so far – they won the regional finals of the UNICEF Football Cup in Kramatorsk. This was the victory that led the Myrnohrad school team to make it to the UFC final in Bannikova Stadium in Kyiv on 19-21 May.

Financially supported by the Government of Germany through KfW development bank, the cup took place in April-May 2017 to promote equality, solidarity, mutual respect and teamwork among children. A total of 302 schools, including those from the conflict affected areas of eastern Ukraine took part in the tournament.

Support of the teammates was crucial in the game.

“I remember that match in Kramatorsk more than any other games we played earlier,” Dasha recalls. “It was an extremely hard game. If it wasn’t for Yehor (my teammate) who scored the last goal, we would have lost and we wouldn’t have gone to Kyiv,” she says. “All in all, I liked playing with the boys. We were playing on the same level. We supported and counted on each other during the match.”

Although her team lost, Dasha and her friends did win, in a way. For the first time in her life, she travelled to Kyiv. “I loved taking part in the UNICEF Football Cup. It was exciting and entertaining. I had never imagined that I would be able to travel to different cities to play football with various teams. I made new friends here and I am happy that I made it to Kyiv. I liked this city a lot, it is big and beautiful,” Dasha says excitedly. She has travelled quite a lot and enjoys it. “I have already visited a lot of places. My parents and I went to the sea in Odesa, to Lviv and the Carpathians. In Carpathians, I loved skiing, I was extremely excited about it. All the more so I like the winter and snow,”

Dasha is a girl of many talents. In addition to football, she practices folk dance, painting and modeling. But physical education is still her favourite school subject. Dasha dreams of joining the army when she grows up. Her explanation is simple. “I like watching the military officers marching. I want to rise to the rank of a general,” she says.

Her other dream is to meet her idol – Lionel Messi, striker of Barcelona Football Club. She says she thinks he is the best player in the world and enjoys watching him play on TV. She hopes the tricks and skills she has learnt from watching Messi will pay off one day soon.

About UNICEF Football Cup

UNICEF Football Cup is a part of the programme “Sport for Development” carried out by UNICEF with the support of the Federal Republic of Germany and KfW.

UNICEF Football Cup united 5 thousand boys and girls representing 302 schools from five Ukrainian regions – Kharkiv, Zaporizhia, Dnipropetrovsk, and government-controlled parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The main goal of the Cup is to promote equality, solidarity, mutual respect, counter bullying and involve children into teamwork.

The regional part of the tournament was played from late March-early May. A total of eight teams made it to the final round that was organized in Kyiv on 19-21 May 2017.



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