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21 June 2021

EURO 2020 make children smile

EURO 2020 make children smile

Today, General Director of the EURO 2020 Local Organizing Committee in St. Petersburg Alexei Sorokin, Advisor to the President of the Russian Football Union Alexei Smertin and film and theater actor Konstantin Khabensky among others spoke about charity initiatives of the Local Organizing Committee in St. Petersburg.

According to its General Director Alexei Sorokin, the EURO 2020 organizers have always said that in addition to what's happening on the pitch, their focus would be on giving all children a chance to take part in the football celebrations.

Sorokin noted the colossal role Konstantin Khabensky's foundation has played. In his video remarks, the famous Russian actor talked about the project Best organized together with the Russian national team: the players came onto the pitch during their first practice after lockdown wearing sweatshirts with pictures drawn by the foundation's children. Players kept some of the sweatshirts (they liked the design) and sent some of them back to children with autographs and best wishes from the team.

"The Football Championship is a celebration for millions of people, and I am happy and overjoyed that children affected by brain cancer also got involved in this large-scale event. Our children have to stay in hospital, while their peers play ball in courtyards, relax at the seashore, get excellent marks at school or play truant. But, thanks to the Organizing Committee's social projects, they, too, were able to feel like a united team and became part of this football event called UEFA EURO 2020," Konstantin Khabensky said.

During EURO 2020, the Organizing Committee and UEFA are implementing the UEFA Foundation program Children's Smiles, which works with children from St. Petersburg social institutions and the foundations 47 in the Game and Stars for Children, as well as children from large families and children with disabilities. There are 480 tickets for the program participants: 160 each for three group stage matches at the Saint Petersburg stadium. As part of this initiative, the youngest fan who came to a match of the Russian national team at the Saint Petersburg stadium was given Artyom Dzyuba's captain armband. In addition to attending matches, an entertainment program was organized for children in Football Park in the Yubileyny Sports Complex, where children could take part in workshops and relay races, get their faces painted in the colors of the national team, and meet and take photos with the EURO mascot Skillzy.

Alexei Smertin, former captain of the Russian national football team who is now responsible for the Russian Football Union's social program, is among the most active participants in the UEFA Foundation program Children's Smiles.

"Any person who has achieved success in football should understand their importance for the future generation, for children. It is great encouragement for children to take part in such projects. I offered to do pushups when they scored penalties against me. You should have seen their eyes. Children should understand they are involved in the game regardless of age or ability. The ball brings everyone together," Alexei Smertin believes.

Founder of the 47 in the Game inclusive project Yury Vidakas explained that this project was initially conceived as social adaptation for people with disabilities through playing sports.

"Most people have 46 chromosomes, and our children have an additional, 47th chromosome. And often because of this extra chromosome, these guys remain off the information agenda, out of society. We want to prove with our project that this is just a figure and that 47 can join in the game," Yury Vidakas explained. The goalkeeper of the 47 in the Game team Yelizaveta Danilova added that she is closely following the Russian national team's performance at EURO 2020 and predicted a win today against Denmark.

According to Alexei Sorokin, after the European Championship the initiatives and ideas in the sphere of social and charity policy will be transferred to the Russian Football Union. The possibility of integrating them into other competitions, for example when preparing and holding the Champions League final scheduled to take place in St. Petersburg in 2022, will be discussed. Sorokin believes that these projects on children's health and adaptation will carry on.

Activities involving Alexei Smertin 21.06.2021: https://disk.yandex.ru/d/VSl7NK5MZWZ1qw

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Football Park at Yubileiny Sports Palace
Football Park at Yubileiny Sports Palace
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