Five years ago, UEFA set up the UEFA Foundation for Children with the key mission to find ways of using football and its social power to support and defend children in Europe and beyond. On its fifth birthday, the foundation proudly highlights a wealth of achievements across the world.
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UEFA’s national associations approved the creation of a UEFA charitable foundation at the European body’s Congress in Astana, Kazakhstan in March 2014, and the UEFA Foundation for Children was launched in April 2015.
Since then, a genuine success story has unfurled.
Reaching out to one million children
In five years, no less than one million children have benefitted from the foundation’s broad palette of activities worldwide.
UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin chairs the foundation’s board of trustees. He hails the work undertaken since 2015, and how football is proving to be a major force for social good.
“Having had the opportunity to be personally involved in various projects,” the UEFA President says, “I have seen that football is an extremely powerful tool.”
“Whether it is in refugee camps across the world, the troubled suburbs of European cities or forgotten conflict zones, all the activities supported by the UEFA Foundation for Children have strengthened my desire to see European football assume its role in the social development of young people all over the world.”
The foundation’s general secretary Urs Kluser highlights the projects and achievements that have marked a memorable first five years for the foundation.
Using football’s power for children
“We are very proud to be one of the ways that European football can give back to society, and use the power of the game to defend children’s rights. It gives them the opportunity to play, forget about their problems for a while, and it helps them succeed in the future.”
245 projects since 2015
“Over the course of these great five years, the foundation has contributed to the protection of children and their rights through football, by providing grants for 245 projects. While many of the projects have emphasised children’s health, education and integration, the foundation has also devoted its attention to victims of conflict, especially refugees, and the promotion of youth employment through football.”
“We have built 22 small and regular size football fields. One example is a pitch at the Za’atari camp for Syrian refugees in the Jordanian desert. The project was started by UEFA and then continued by the foundation. Now, 6,000 children practice sport there every week, in a programme that is entirely run by the Syrian refugees.”
Diversity and Multiculturality
“The foundation has been able to support projects in 100 countries on all five continents. Half of the funds have been contributed to European projects. Of the one million children to benefit from these projects, at least 35% of them are girls, and we are working on increasing this proportion.”
“The projects are using sport, and football in particular, to help defend children from precarious backgrounds. They have proved to be a great success in leading children to education. They help children with disabilities to play, develop and feel like any other children, and they improve many children’s health.”
“They are also useful in increasing young people’s chances of joining the workforce by improving their life skills and therefore their employability. And this means reducing the risks of falling prey to drugs, crime and extremism.”
Helping migrants adapt and integrate
“During the 2015/16 refugee crisis, with [the associations’] support, the foundation funded 23 projects in 15 different countries throughout Europe. Projects that work with football to help young migrants adjust to the new environment, receive education and integrate into society.”
Making children dream…
“The national associations have also brought hope to children and given them the chance to dream. Almost 24,000 children that would otherwise never have had a chance to see such a game have been invited to the UEFA competitions...a number of them even having the chance to meet their idols in person. For some of them, this experience has changed their lives.”
…and helping them to play the beautiful game
“We have distributed over 35,000 balls and football kits in schools, children’s institutions and associations, giving them the basic tools to train and to play football."
“The foundation contributed to UEFA’s sustainable management efforts by re-using and distributing over 34 tons of material from our competitions and our sponsors."
Building new partnerships
“With the support of UEFA and the President, the foundation managed to build new partnerships with its sponsors: FedEx, Lay’s, Nissan, Mastercard, KIA, Gazprom, Konami, Adidas and Socar. Their support has gone up from 0% to between 20 and 30% of the project budget. Their support is going directly into projects and infrastructure development, and will hopefully increase even more in the future.”
Match for Solidarity
“Our association with UEFA has enabled us to team up with the United Nations and the city of Geneva. In cooperation with them, UEFA and the foundation took on the challenge of organising a Match for Solidarity in 2018. It turned out a huge success. The proceeds have been used to help six projects working with disabled children in several countries. The next Match for Solidarity is scheduled for summer 2021.”
“Our fifth birthday milestone enables the foundation to extend its special thanks to the entire football community for the trust that has been shown in us and our work. Thanks also to all of our partners, NGOs and organisations for their daily involvement in our activities, as well as their dedication to protecting children and their rights, which have helped give legitimacy to the foundation and its mission.”