UEFA has launched the UEFA Foundation for Children – set up to support youngsters through sport and football in particular – and has announced a series of initial projects.
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UEFA's social heart beats even more soundly from today with the launch of the UEFA Foundation for Children – a body set up to help youngsters, especially through football.
The foundation has been established on the initiative of the UEFA President, Michel Platini. It emphasises UEFA's continual desire to use football and its massive popularity as a force for good in society. Now a number of humanitarian and development programmes for children are set to be initiated around the world.
The aim of the foundation is to help children – through sport and football in particular – by providing support primarily in the areas of health, education, access to sport, personal development, integration and defending the rights of the child.
For some years UEFA has backed various programmes and activities for disadvantaged children in Europe and beyond. Now the UEFA Foundation for Children is strengthening these activities, with a mission to contribute to the promotion of the fundamental rights of the child as laid down in international conventions, which recognise a child as a person in his or her own right and apply the principle that a child is able to assert these rights.
In his address to the 39th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Vienna last month, Mr Platini expressed the belief that institutions such as UEFA have an "obligation to devote themselves to ambitious social responsibility projects, to civic and solidarity initiatives. That is why we have established the UEFA Foundation for Children".
The UEFA Executive Committee and UEFA Congress gave their backing to the project in 2014 in Astana, Kazakhstan. "This foundation will help us – help you – to preserve the magic of football and give hope to those children who need it most," said the UEFA President at the time. "This is a great project – a truly great project – and a cause that is particularly close to my heart."
Alongside the 39th Congress, Vienna also hosted the inaugural meeting of the foundation's board of trustees. The board comprises:
• Chairman José Manuel Durão Barroso (former president of the European Commission)
• Norman Darmanin Demajo (Malta Football Association (MFA) president and founder of The Time2Think Organisation)
• Peter Gilliéron (Swiss Football Association (SFV-ASF) president and chairman of UEFA's Fair Play and Social Responsibility Committee)
• Margarita Louis-Dreyfus (president of Louis Dreyfus Holding BV and president of the Louis-Dreyfus Foundation)
• Michel Platini (UEFA President)
• Viviane Reding (Member of the European Parliament)
• Sándor Csányi (president of the Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ) and founder of the Csányi Foundation for Children)
"UEFA's commitment in setting up this foundation embodies a desire that has always inspired me: to reach out to those most in need by turning the fundamental values of European civilisation – human dignity, solidarity and hope – into opportunities for our children to improve their lives," said Mr Barroso. "Together we must act to guarantee them a future full of promise, because by acting on behalf of children today we are shaping the society of tomorrow."
The foundation's board marked its constituent meeting by giving the green light to a series of projects aimed at helping children.
• Since September 2013, UEFA has been supporting a particular football camp centering on the Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan, and the programme is benefiting young Syrian refugees of both genders. The foundation has taken on this project and is developing programmes around sport, training coaches and organising tournaments for girls and boys at the camp.
• The "Just Play" project in the Pacific Islands. This award-winning project, initiated by the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and UEFA, has also been taken up by the foundation. Its purpose is to promote physical activity for children aged between six and 12 and to promote a healthy lifestyle in the fight against childhood obesity, which affects this region.
• Three projects related to UEFA EURO 2016 in France next summer – the UEFA Foundation for Children will carry out activities for the duration of the tournament by supporting a series of projects linked to the defence of childrens' causes.
• A project for autistic children – the UEFA Foundation for Children will work with the International Foundation of Applied Disability Research (FIRAH) to improve the living conditions of children with autism and their families.
In addition, around 100 children will have the chance to be inspired through football when they attend UEFA's two major club competition fixtures – the UEFA Europa League final in Warsaw on 27 May and the UEFA Champions League final in Berlin on 6 June, as part of a UEFA Foundation for Children project established for these showpiece matches.