Sujal Kahar, a 12-year-old football enthusiast and goalkeeper from Mumbai, has been shortlisted as India’s representative at the global FOOTBALL FOR FRIENDSHIP (F4F) social programme. 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 programme for the first time and will participate alongside over 60 other countries.
Sujal will join Young Footballers from around the world in St. Petersburg, Russia in July 2017. The children will play in eight-player teams, comprising boys and girls aged 12years old, including those with disabilities, in the Gazprom FOOTBALL FOR FRIENDSHIP International Championship. He will also participate in the Fifth Football for Friendship International Children’s Forum, which will allow youngsters to discuss with famous footballers and journalists how to promote the programme’s values around the world. The fifth season of the F4F programme will conclude with a visit by the participating children to the final match of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 at the St. Petersburg Stadium.
Sujal is one of 15 members of an underprivileged family and attends a tuition-free government school near his home. He started playing football at the age of 10 and today plays for his school team, Educo Phoenix. When he was selected for the school team his father bought him his first pair of gloves, which he still wears in all his matches even today. His parents have been incredibly supportive of his passion and have proved it by using their limited means to buy him things that will help him play better. This talented, young goalkeeper believes it is important to promote friendship, equality, and peace because he believes that we need each of these three things to brighten our world.
Sujal Kahar was shortlisted as the F4F Young Ambassador from India after an extensive assessment process in association with Just For Kicks, a school intervention programme working towards developing life skills amongst children belonging to lower income families by incorporating football training in their school curriculum. He was selected from among over 2500 children from 100 plus Just For Kicks partner schools.
As part of the F4F programme, the Global Day of Football and Friendship was first proclaimed on 25th April in 2014 and supported by FIFA and UEFA. During this day, everyone who shares the most important values, such as equality, respect for other cultures and peaceful existence bind a blue-green Friendship bracelet to his hand. The blue string of the bracelet symbolizes the peaceful sky, and the green string symbolizes the football field, accessible to everyone.
India joined the celebrations for the first time this year, where Sujal Kahar was accompanied by former India goalkeeper and CEO of Western India Football Association (WIFA) Henry Menezes in an event held at the WIFA Cooperage Grounds. The celebrations, held on the sidelines of the WIFA State Youth Championship that are currently underway in Mumbai, saw participants tie each other the blue-green Friendship bracelet that is a symbol of the Global Day of Football and Friendship.
Around the world children, adults, personalities and football enthusiasts gathered in over 60 countries in celebration of the Global Day of Football and Friendship. The day saw a series of events promoting peace, friendship, equality and a healthy lifestyle, held across Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America. Tens of thousands of children and adults participate in friendly matches, open training sessions, flash mobs, marathons and sport events.
The events held in different parts of the world were attended by famous football players, including Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovich and Russian goalkeeper Yuri Lodygin from FC Zenit (St. Petersburg, Russia), Dutch striker Dirk Kuyt from FC Feyenoord (Rotterdam, the Netherlands). In Athens, the event was attended by the winner of the European Football Championship 2004 as part of the national team, Theodoras Zagarakis, who is a member of the European Parliament from Greece.