BY ROMULUS HUTA
FOOTBALL is not only about merely kicking the ball as there is so much more attached to it.
This was how young Abraham Iniga and Hendrix Maneoru interpreted upon their return after attending the 2018 Gazprom International Children’s Social Programme, Football For Friendship (F4F) in Moscow, Russia last month.
The programme, now in its sixth edition, was attended by 1500 children and was covered by over 300 international media outlets to spread the values embodied by the beautiful game to the world.
Iniga and Maneoru were the Solomon Islands’ two young reps at the event and where they were accompanied by two male adults namely Junior Siosi and Solomon Maneoru.
During the programme, Iniga participated as a soccer player while Maneoru participated as a young journalist.
Speaking about their reflections after the programme, the duo told the F4F media that football is more than just playing.
Iniga said: “I started playing football when I was five. My dad is a national player for our country and with his help and encouragement, I dream that one day, I can follow my father’s footsteps. Football is about more than playing – it brings friendship, unity and peace. In football, there are no differences and titles, we are one.
Maneoru said: “I am pleased to be nominated for the Football for Friendship programme and to support the values of friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions and honour. I believe that everyone should be given an equal chance and that people should be treated fairly so we can all live together in peace and harmony and make the world a better place.”
F4F Global Director, Vladimir Serov,said: “In one team, playing together there are kids of different nationalities, different genders, different physical abilities.
“I believe together we will be able to help them, our young participants, to find new friends from different countries, to learn how to play together, how to live together … and I believe they will show people what the world could be without discrimination, without racism, war and violence.”
Emanuel Saakai, founder and Director of Football at Lengo Football Academy has heaped praise on what was a once in a lifetime opportunity for many young participants.
“What an incredible life changing experience for a whole generation of bright kids. Now they can take the F4F message to their peers in their home countries and spread the message of peace and equality so that they can grow together through the magic of football.”
The seventh instalment of the F4F programme will be held in 2019 with details soon to be announced.