Over 50 children from Czechia's Fotbal pro rozvoj took part in the Europa Conference League final thanks to the UEFA Foundation for Children.
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With the UEFA Europa Conference League Final unfolding in Prague, the spotlight shone not only on the thrilling football action but also on the remarkable work achieved by the UEFA Foundation for children through the Fotbal pro rozvoj (Football for development) project in Czechia.
Over 50 young beneficiaries of the initiative enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the grand spectacle of this year's final at Prague's Eden Arena thanks to the joint work of the foundation and two of the competition’s sponsors, Hankook and Engelbert Strauss.
Adding to the excitement, a small group of children took centre stage, striding onto the pitch as referee and player mascots, proudly standing shoulder to shoulder with the Fiorentina and West Ham United players. This honour exemplifies the unwavering spirit and limitless potential residing within each child, echoing the Foundation's belief that "Every child is a champion."
Young Karolina had the chance to act as a player mascot for the first time
“It was my dream to enter the pitch in a full stadium”
Since 2020, the foundation has been supporting the Fotbal pro rozvoj project in Czechia, which uses informal football-based educational activities to engage young people at risk of social exclusion. Through the power of sport, the initiative promotes social integration, personal development, and a sense of belonging for the youth in various urban environments across the country.
Empowering youth through football
Football for Development has been running in Czechia for over 15 years, during which it has developed a robust network of national and international partners. Collaborating with clubs, social services, orphanages, and youth detention centres in the cities of Prague, Usti nad Labem, Plzeň, Olomouc, Karlovy Vary and Liberec, the project creates safe spaces for social interaction and personal growth for children and teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds, including those at risk of social exclusion, discrimination, disabilities, and orphanhood.
Football for Development implements the Football3 concept, which prioritises fair play, inclusion, and mutual respect as essential elements of the game. By emphasising social values such as teamwork, discussion, and mutual understanding, the initiative goes beyond sports competition to instil life skills and conflict resolution strategies.
The initiative also employs the Football for Good methodology, integrating football training sessions with social topics and life skills relevant to participants' daily lives. From addressing issues like drug abuse, violence, vandalism, and racism to teaching communication, teamwork, respect, leadership skills, and non-violent conflict resolution, this approach empowers young people to become responsible leaders within their communities.
Ansley, Fotbal pro rozvoj manager
« Prague welcomes and celebrates the achievement of two teams at the Europa Conference League final, but not only. Thanks to the UEFA Foundation for Children and its partners, it will also celebrate the achievement of a number of young people who take part in our Football for Good programme and bring them this unique experience. We are glad our children can contribute to the diversity and celebration of the European Conference League final.»