FC Levadia Tallinn and FC Flora will do their bit to "get young people off the street and away from drugs" as Sunday's big derby in Estonia sends a positive message to children in the Baltic nation.
This weekend marks the tenth edition of the annual 'Lastele Tervis – EI Narkootikumidele' (health for children, stop narcotics) campaign in Tallinn, with the Meistriliiga's top fixture once more the focus of attention. League games in Estonia usually have attendances in the hundreds, but as many as 3,000 are likely to be at Sunday's match, many of them children.
That's the main idea, to get young people off the streets and away from drugs, which are seriously threatening our next generation," one of the event's organisers, Juri Tšurilkin, explained. Children have been offered free tickets to the capital derby, with gifts also on offer, as Tšurilkin bids to show them "football action which is an alternative to drug abuse".
To underline the benefits of what one-time Levadia director Tšurilkin called "a healthy active lifestyle", the annual gala regularly enlists a celebrity ambassador from the sporting world. Eusébio was the star turn in 2007, this time, they have drafted former Manchester United FC, Everton FC and ACF Fiorentina winger Andrei Kanchelskis, whose presence should cause quite a stir.
The 41-year-old former CIS and Russian international now coaches FC Torpedo-ZIL Moskva, yet has promised to be at Sunday's event. Tšurilkin has his fingers crossed. "He's really busy right now, but he'll arrive in Tallinn from France a few hours before the match," he said. "We hope there will be no delays. Kanchelskis reacted very positively to our offer."
Children have been no less enthused by the gala, with Tšurilkin concluding: "Every year after these charity matches, I receive dozens, even hundreds of calls from parents who want their children to start football training. After events like this, and after meeting European stars, children become obsessed with football and cannot think of anything else."
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