Belarus reaping HatTrick rewards

General secretary Sergei Safaryan says UEFA's HatTrick programme has given the Belarus Football Federation "enormous comprehensive help and support"; discovers how.

Football fans and players of all ages are feeling the benefits of UEFA's HatTrick assistance programme in Belarus, with two projects in particular reaping rewards.

The Nadezhda Cup is a tournament organised to bring together children feeling the ongoing effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, with youngsters coming from nine rehabilitation centres from across the country to take part in a four-day event.

On the impact of UEFA's help towards the event, Belarus Football Federation (BFF) General Secretary Sergei Safaryan said: "There were large expenses involved in transporting the children, so bringing together our funds and the money from UEFA helped us avoid having to require the teams participating in the tournament to take the financial responsibility upon themselves, thereby giving the kids a footballing celebration."

The Nadezhda Cup was one of two BFF projects to be acknowledged with UEFA HatTrick Awards in 2015. The second of these was Internet-TV, a unique development that has given people the chance to watch as many as eight games from the Belarus Premier League, as well as some second tier games, live each week for free on the national association's website.

BFF IT manager Dmitry Vasilchenko explained: "We had the idea for Internet-TV for a long time. It was linked to the notion that the BFF and fans wanted to see all of the national championship matches. Television broadcasters couldn't afford to show them all, so federation representatives set themselves the task of creating an alternative way of showing matches. In other words, setting up online broadcasting of league matches."

Now in its 13th year, the HatTrick programme has been a resounding success in helping the development of football around Europe, distributing funds taken from revenue from the UEFA European Championship. Aside from the projects already mentioned, in Belarus funding has also helped to build mini-pitches and the BFF technical centre.

"HatTrick has given us, and continues to give, enormous comprehensive help and support," added Mr Safaryan. "It helps us implement many programmes and plans. With the Nadezhda Cup and Internet-TV, if we had not had the financial support from the HatTrick programme, it would have been very difficult to bring them to life. When you have that support and the desire, you can transform ideas into actual projects which not only help us to develop and move forward, they also widen the audience of people who are directly getting involved in football."