The UEFA Foundation for Children teams up with Hungarian associations to bring happiness and hope to kids through the beautiful game.
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As the UEFA Europa League final unfolds in Budapest this year, the UEFA Foundation for Children finds itself in a familiar embrace, for it has a longstanding commitment to supporting local Hungarian associations dedicated to helping children in need.
The UEFA Foundation provides financial aid to the Oltalom Sport Association and the Amigos for Children Foundation, two Hungarian associations harnessing the power of the beautiful game to promote social progress and make a positive impact on kids from local communities.
At this year’s final, thanks to the generosity of Europa League sponsor Engelberg Strauss and the UEFA Foundation, children’s dreams came true in more ways than one. About 100 young guests from Oltalom Sport Association and Amigos for Children Foundation associations had the opportunity to attend the Europa League final in Budapest and some of them even acted as player escorts, experiencing first-hand the excitement and passion of one of UEFA’s biggest events.
András Rákos, OSA staff from Hungary
Being part of the Europa League final is an amazing opportunity to offer a once in a lifetime experience for our participants. Seeing the smiles on the children's face when their dreams come true is what we can call a reward for our work.
Oltalom Sport Association: football for refugees
In Hungary, the Oltalom Sport Association (OSA) is on a mission to use football as a tool to uplift disadvantaged individuals and foster a healthy lifestyle since its inception in 2005. Through weekly training sessions and football camps, the association provides refugees and migrants in shelters of Budapest with an opportunity to build self-esteem and develop crucial skills such as teamwork and communication. OSA’s objective is also to promote fair play through football as a means of combatting racism and increasing social tolerance.
The UEFA Foundation for Children supports OSA’s activities by donating over 43,000 € to develop new projects and promote integration and social cohesion among refugees in Budapest. Thanks to OSA’s initiative and the foundation’s support, 560 children and young adults, of which 160 are refugees, are benefitting from a safe place to play their favourite game, and a regular physical activity with friends to look forward to.
OSA also regularly represents Hungary at the Homeless World Cup, which uses football to inspire social change and provide opportunities for marginalised players. In 2019, Hungary’s women’s team travelled to Cardiff, showcasing their talent and dedication after months of intense preparation. A year earlier, the men’s team from OSA finished third place in Mexico City.
Zoltán, from Ukraine
My father is still home, trying to defend our country. He is in dark places, whereas I am standing in the light of the stadium. I am doing it for you, Dad.
Marianna, Zoltán's mum
Since we had to leave our home and all of our life behind, this is the first time I see my son smiling again. I'd like to say thank you to Oltalom Sport Association for making this happen.
Amigos for Children Foundation: visiting children in hospitals
The Amigos for Children Foundation’s mission revolves around fostering healing and empowerment among children staying in hospital. Through the power of friendship, language learning, play, and creativity, the Amigos for Children Foundation and its dedicated university student volunteers, known as Amigos, strive to create a nurturing environment for kids in hospitals.
With the assistance from the UEFA Foundation for Children, the hospital visits project will integrate sports-related knowledge and develop captivating exercise booklets that revolve around the world of sports.
Sára Forgács-Fábián, founder of Amigos
At Amigos, we want to be not only friends but also role models for the children and show them a world they can reach beyond the hospital walls, even through their imagination. Where we talk with them we include topics such as travel, different cultures, books and sports. And if your favourite football player is Spanish or French, you must learn to introduce yourself in their native language, because who knows when you will meet him/her! Thanks to UEFA, it became reality and gave the kids a lifetime of memories and motivation.
Csaba Szlovicsák, Amigos volunteer
It is important for me to be part of this project, because both Amigos and the love of sport are very close to me. For me, football is essential because of its ability to bring people together on and off the pitch, to strengthen our love of the game and to give us the opportunity to build friendships, while at the same time recognising the power and importance of a cohesive community.