Albanian orphans get their own dream team

UEFA's core social responsibility partner Terre des hommes has helped children from an Albanian orphanage to set up their own football team officially recognised by the Albanian FA.

A child from the Zyber Hallulli orphanage in Albania
A child from the Zyber Hallulli orphanage in Albania ©Terres des hommes

Children living in an orphanage in Albania have had a dream come true with the creation of their very own football team thanks to the efforts of Terre des hommes (Tdh), one of UEFA's core social partners, and with the help of the Football Association of Albania (FShF).

The newly established team from the Zyber Hallulli Residential Institution is a product of Swiss-based organisation Tdh's MOVE project. Tdh works against child exploitation in central and south-eastern Europe, and the four-year MOVE programme in Albania, Moldova and Romania aims to help the psychosocial development of children in these countries through sport.

Tdh set up the Zyber Hallulli team after an assessment of the youngsters at the residence revealed that a significant number were keen to play football. It found a coach for the children and they are now eligible to participate in youth leagues – ensuring a priceless opportunity to interact with other kids – after the team were officially recognised by the FShF. Tdh and the Albanian association will cooperate next in organising a series of sporting events in the country as part of the MOVE project.

"We were happy to be involved in this project and to give our support in different directions," said FShF marketing and PR director Gazmend Malo, "as we are always keen to promote the game and are especially sensitive about the cause of vulnerable children. We involved our sponsors as well in order to share this opportunity and they were happy with the initiative."

Ariane Zwahlen, Tdh programme manager for eastern Europe and eastern Africa, said: "Terre des hommes is very grateful to the Football Association of Albania for the decision taken to recognise the Zyber Hallulli youth football team," she said. "It has transformed the biggest wish of these children into reality."