Gazprom's international children's social programme Football for Friendship (F4F) gathers young players and journalists from around the world to participate in a range of events aiming to bring cultures together to promote the fundamental values of the sport. Euronews met some of the young talent at the 2019 edition in Madrid.
Sophie Folds, from the USA, started playing football in her backyard with her brother when she was around three years old. "He is a really good teacher to me, we still play sometimes after school,” she said.
Folds loves the sport because it’s “really fun” but also because she loves to be part of a team: “It makes me feel very good, and then when I am playing soccer or football with my friends it's just awesome, I love it,” she told us.
This is the first year Folds has attended Football for Friendship, and she says even the "bad" times have been good. "One of the best moments was losing with my team, because it brought us closer. I love it here,” she says with a huge smile.
F4F has brought together hundreds of children from nearly 60 different countries to Madrid, this year’s host of the Champions League final.
What should people know about Football for Friendship?
“I think it's important that people should know that Football for Friendship is not only about soccer, it’s also about making friends and learning about different cultures, and I think it's really cool.”
Folds has made friends from around the globe – one of the primary objectives of the initiative. “I am now good friends with people from the Netherlands, Czech Republic, and many other countries,” she said.
Is language ever a barrier?
“Sometimes,” Sophie admits, “but we always find ways to communicate. I have a friend from Finland, and we both don't speak much, but we don't need to speak, we can just laugh and smile.”