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Lifetime thrill for youngsters


The UEFA Europa League final provided an unforgettable experience for nine youngsters, thanks to a joint initiative by UEFA, the Royal Netherlands Football Association and Jeugdsportfonds.

The youngsters at the UEFA Europa League final
The youngsters at the UEFA Europa League final ©UEFA

Nine youngsters experienced the thrill of a lifetime when they attended last week's UEFA Europa League final in Amsterdam – thanks to UEFA, the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) and Jeugdsportfonds (Youth Sport Fund).

The Youth Sport Fund in the Netherlands offers children up to the age of 18,  and whose own families do not have the financial means, the chance to join a sports club. Thanks to the Youth Sport Fund, these children are able to make their dreams come true, as the fund pays for both the subscription and the required sports equipment.

Since 1996, throughout the Netherlands, the Youth Sport Fund has supported - with the backing of 32 local foundations - 24,954 requests for playing football, and a total of 77,226 requests for playing sports.

UEFA and the KNVB invited nine children to visit the 2013 UEFA Europa League final between Chelsea FC and SL Benfica last Wednesday. All of the children, aged between 13 and 16 years, are from disadvantaged families and play football. They come from local youth sport foundations in the cities of Haarlem, Alkmaar and Zaanstad, and were chosen by their coaches.

 Some quotes of the children and their supervisors:
"I would never expect this to happen in my life!"
"We were so excited!"
"What a big stadium, there are so many people!"
"It's so cool to see this!"
"What a beautiful opening ceremony"
"It was a very exciting match"
"We had so much fun!"

"A great thank you to UEFA and the KNVB for this opportunity," said Youth Sport Fund's Nanda Louissen. "In a time of poverty among Dutch families, where sports for many children is not always possible, it's fantastic to offer these youngsters a moment they will never forget."