The Opening Ceremony of the International Children’s Summer Games (ICG) saw 1192 athletes take part in Ufa, the capital city of the Republic of Bashkortostan. The Games, which are celebrating their 53rd year welcomed 84 cities to the event on July 10. Considering that the ICG’s first edition had just nine participant cities, the figures for this year were monumental.
The Games, which are now under the aegis of the International Olympic Committee were born from one man's desire to “create a better world based on friendship.” Today, the ICG is an internationally recognised sports competition for children between 12 and 15-years-old.
“My childhood suffered from the second World War. It destroyed my family (...) sport seemed to be one of the best means to bring together young people from different countries”, explained once Metod Klemenc, dubbed the “spiritual father” of ICG.
The opening ceremony was dedicated to the history of the Games, sparking memories of its early origins in Celje, Slovenia in June 1968.
This year's participants played in Ufa's main stadium. “We have created modern sports and recreational infrastructure. There are stadiums, training and recreation complexes with state-of-the-art equipment”, said Radiy Khabirov, Acting Head of the Republic of Bashkortostan. In total, more than 400 volunteers brought the competition to life across 16 city venues and 5 sports facilities. The event was sponsored by Gazprom PJSC.
The Young Ambassadors’ team of the Gazprom International Children’s Social Programme Football for Friendship (F4F) also took part in the event. “I believe that sport is a truly unique tool, helping people of different gender, nationality and age to find not only a common language but also to follow the right path in life by promotion of a healthy lifestyle, teamwork, as well as passion for personal development and reaching the top goals,” said Ananya Kamboj, the Young Ambassador of Football for Friendship from India.
On July 13, for the first time in the history of the ICG, its participants played a match in accordance with the principle of Football for Friendship: they got the chance to play side by side with their former rivals in mixed teams. The young ambassadors from Football for Friendship had an active role as coaches and young referees.
F4F ambassadors also awarded the participants with special trophies that bestowing commitment to the programme’s nine core values: friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions, and honour.
“Dignity, strength of character, kindness must be the basis of the personality of every human, and it would be great if they were accepted as norms of conduct,” said Jennifer Chavez Suarez, a Young Ambassador from Bolivia.