The official website for European football

Nyon break for Beslan kids

Published: Monday 25 April 2005, 8.55CET
A group of children who survived the Beslan siege have been guests of honour at UEFA HQ.

UEFA.com features

Pick of the week: matchday one
  • Pick of the week: matchday one
  • What teams need to get through
  • Watch the five best acrobatic Champions League goals
  • Ones to watch in the group stage
  • Masterclass: Xavi on passing and control
  • Newcomers ready for Champions League debuts
  • Pick of the Week of Football
  • Berezovski and Frick join Europe's 40-somethings
  • Europe's all-time top international goalscorers
  • Introducing football in Gibraltar ...
1 of 10
Published: Monday 25 April 2005, 8.55CET

Nyon break for Beslan kids

A group of children who survived the Beslan siege have been guests of honour at UEFA HQ.

By Pete Sanderson

He may not have carried the same reputation as the likes of José Mourinho, Joseph S. Blatter or even Pelé but the boy who walked through the doors of UEFA on Friday was one the most important visitors to the house of European football for some time. The youngster, along with 15 friends, was one of the survivors of the school siege in Beslan, Russia, which claimed more than 300 lives last September.

Three months
Wednesday 1 September should have been the beginning of a new school year for Alan Tzirakov but the events which unfolded scarred an entire nation forever as terrorists held a three-day armed siege at Alan's school. Eight months on Alan and his fellow pupils are still trying to get their lives back in order and, to help with their recuperation process, they were invited to Nyon, Switzerland for three months. As part of the trip, UEFA's HatTrick Project Manager Bruno Wolfisberg invited the children to see European football's headquarters for themselves.

Smiles aplenty
"I read a piece in the local paper that they were coming over to Nyon and were looking for host families," Wolfisberg told uefa.com. "Once the kids had settled I thought it would be great for them to see UEFA. We had one of the girls staying at out house. She and her friends have been through such an ordeal and we are doing whatever we can to help them. We just want to see them happy."

Football fan
Like all the children visiting Switzerland, ten-year-old Alan is a passionate follower of football. And, after a tour of the trophies, the famous draw room and watching a video on UEFA EURO 2004™, Alan was in no doubt about his favourite activity of the day. "I love the trophies," he said, before revealing he had supported Portugal and Russia in last summer's tournament. "I would love to lift one of them one day when I am older. I want to be as good as David Beckham one day."

Eye-opener
It has been an incredible few weeks for the children. Not only have they witnessed a whole new culture since being invited over to live with local families in Nyon, the hometown of UEFA, they have also visited landmarks throughout Switzerland. It is a far cry from the toil and trouble back in their homeland and the experience of this new world has opened the eyes of Svetlana Kozyreva – one of the teachers who came over to Switzerland.

Peace and tranquility
"The whole stay has been incredible," she told uefa.com "The experience of living in such a quiet and peaceful environment really helps the children to overcome the problems they have gone through and being able to come to the home of football is wonderful. The girls have particularly enjoyed seeing UEFA – they seem to like football as much if not more than the boys."

Fresh air
The trip has had a noticeable impact on the children too. Kozyreva, who almost broke down in tears of happiness during the interview as she recalled the Swiss experience, said she has seen a day-to-day improvement in the mental health of the children. "I think they are feeling better for the whole experience - you can see it in their faces," she said. "There is a huge cultural difference between Nyon and Beslan - elementary things that people probably would not think about over here. The freedom is a breath of fresh air."

Last updated: 31/01/12 7.45CET

Related information

Team profiles

http://www.uefa.com/memberassociations/news/newsid=297528.html#nyon+break+beslan+kids

  • © 1998-2014 UEFA. All rights reserved.
  • The UEFA word, the UEFA logo and all marks related to UEFA competitions, are protected by trade marks and/or copyright of UEFA. No use for commercial purposes may be made of such trade marks. Use of UEFA.com signifies your agreement to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.