Ananya Kamboj, an eighth standard student from Chandigarh, has been selected to represent India as a young journalist at the global Football For Friendship (F4F) social programme in Russia.
“From childhood, I was a diehard football fan and loved going through the statistics for the major football events. I started reading newspapers and learned about football statistics from that,” says Ananya, a student from Vivek High School, Mohali, who has been selected to represent India as a Young Journalist at the global FOOTBALL FOR FRIENDSHIP (F4F) social programme to be held in Russia. The F4F programme, supported by Gazprom and FIFA, focuses on the development of children’s football, fostering tolerance and respect for different cultures and nationalities among children from different countries. India joins the program for the first time and will participate alongside more than 60 other countries.
Ananya, who has always enjoyed football and believes it is a way to get involved and build lasting friendships, was shortlisted as the F4F Young Journalist from India after participating in a contest conducted by F4F supported by Mission XI Million, programme of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 that has a vision of making football the sport of choice among the youth by bringing football to 11 million kids. The contest saw entries from over 20 cities. Ananya, whose winning entry spoke of the role of football in ‘enabling conversations’, which could help soothe tensions and foster engagement between countries and people across the globe feels, “this passion will translate into the position, by allowing me to build relationships with the student/athletes, but also the coaching staff and the media fraternity.”
Ananya will join Young Journalists from around the world in St. Petersburg, Russia in July 2017. The Young Journalists will take an active part in coverage of the activities of the F4F program as part of the International Children’s Press Center.
“It’s a great honour for me. I will be communicating with young ambassadors from 64 countries and other football stars. I will be actively participating in coverage of the activities of the “Football for Friendship” programme and its key values. I will be meeting and communicating with the peers from other countries,” states Ananya, on the opportunity to represent India at a global event.
In St. Petersburg, Ananya will join participants from around the world in a discussion about how Olympic and Paralympic athletes turn the nine values into reality, how they achieve victories and support many people with their help. “This exposure will give a great amount of confidence and identity to me,” remarks an excited Ananya. “It is a great learning experience for an aspiring journalist. This is a lifetime opportunity to learn from professional reporters and get invaluable experience and discuss the nine values (friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions and honor) in the international children’s press center,” she added.
She will be joined by Sujal Kahar, the 12-year-old Mumbai lad who was selected as the Young Footballer from India, who will play a match with an international team of his peers in St. Petersburg. Both of the participants will also get to watch the final match of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 at the St. Petersburg Stadium.
An avid sports enthusiast, writer and communicator Ananya believes, “Football is unique in that it crosses all geographic, ethnic and religious boundaries. While almost everyone on this planet knows of, plays or has watched others play football, aside from goals scored and long standing team rivalries, rarely do we hear about the more important value and ability for this and other sports to effect positive social change.”
“I want to play football, but there isn’t enough time!” says Ananya, who played football and basketball in her school team and used to do other sports: track, skating and taekwondo. A Minerva Punjab FC and FC Barcelona fan who counts Bhaichung Bhutia as her favourite footballer says, “There is nothing more exciting than going to a sporting event of my favorite team. To be surrounded by other sports fans who are rooting for the same team as you brings a sense of togetherness.”
A firm believer in the power of friendships, she says that ‘Education and sports play an important role in achieving peace.’
“Football engages people, fosters teamwork, releases endorphins and teaches young people important life lessons about hard work, dedication and relying on others.
Perhaps more importantly, sports like football help to keep kids off the streets and away from drugs and violence,” remarks Ananya on the role of football as an agent of social change which can help in bringing societies together.
The FOOTBALL FOR FRIENDSHIP (F4F) international children’s social programme was implemented by Gazprom in 2013. The programme unites children of different nationalities, different sexes, different physical abilities. Friendship, peace and equality are the key values promoted by participants of the FOOTBALL FOR FRIENDSHIP. The goal of the programme is the development of children’s football, fostering tolerance and respect for different cultures and nationalities among children from different countries. The key values that the participants support and promote are friendship, equality, justice, health, peace, loyalty, victory, tradition and honor.
The Global Day of Football and Friendship is celebrated in more than 60 countries around the world, including Russia, the United States, Brazil, India, China, Germany, France, Algeria, Syria, Iraq, Japan and other countries. Over 400 thousand people were involved in the festive events. In different years the Global Day of Football and Friendship Day was supported by hundreds of players including the legend of world football Franz Beckenbauer (Germany), one of the best striker in the history of the African continent Didier Drogba (Côte d’Ivoire), the famous defender of Real Madrid Michel Solgado (Spain), ex-player of London Arsenal Andrey Arshavin (Russia), former captain of the national team Vitor Bahia (Portugal) and other stars from the world of football.