Indian youngsters gear up for the Football for Friendship Programme in Russia

Surya Varikuti and Rudresh Gaudnour, the selected 12 year old young ambassadors from India will be on their way to Russia on June 8th to participate in the 6th Gazprom Football for Friendship International Programme. They will be joined by kids from over 210 countries around the world, in Moscow.

Surya Varikuti, selected in the role of a defender will be a part of the 32 International Teams of Friendship that play against each other in the Gazprom Football for Friendship International Championship. The young footballer will be a part of the “Orangutan” team, and will undergo a 3 day training camp in Moscow, to get used to the playing conditions and get ample practice with his team, before the start of the championship. Each International Team of Friendship will be trained by 14-16 year old young coaches from different countries. The young footballers will also participate in workshops and sessions, conducted by renowned celebrities.

Surya Varikuti, who hails from Bangalore, started playing football at the age of 5 in the Stanford Youth Football League. He has participated in numerous football tournaments across the country, including the National U-13 Youth League. He currently plays for Roots Football School (RFS) in Bangalore, and dreams to play for the national football team in the future, like his idol, Lionel Messi. The selection of the young footballer was conducted by All India Football Federation (AIFF) by selecting the best defender, fitting the criteria, from a team that conceded the least number of goals. A Barcelona FC fan, this talented, young footballer 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. Apart from football, Surya also likes to play Volleyball and Badminton.

At the F4F Programme in Russia, Surya Varikuti will be accompanied by Rudresh Gaudnour, who will act as a young journalist and cover all the local and global activities of the program as part of the International Children’s Press Center. The Press Centre acts as hub for the young journalists who gather information, make reports, write news articles and prepare materials on the initiatives implemented as part of the Programme.

A student of a Pandit Dindayal Upadaya EMS municipal school in Pune, Rudresh started playing football at the age of 8 and currently plays for the Kothrud Wolves, the Pune team of Just for Kicks (a school intervention programme working towards developing life skills amongst children belonging to lower income families). 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 train better. Rudresh also assists the coach during training sessions and actively mentors Under-8 football teams. Apart from sports, Rudresh is also a writer and an avid reader, and looks after the school newsletter in his role as the Editor-in-chief. His consistent exam score of 95% despite spending over 45 hours a week playing football is a testament to his ability in balancing academics and sports. An FC Barcelona fan, he considers Andres Iniesta as his favourite player.

Surya Varikuti and Rudresh Gaudnour will also participate in the Sixth Football for Friendship International Children’s Forum in Russia, which will provide the youngsters an opportunity to meet their peers from other countries, share their experiences, and discuss with famous footballers and journalists on how to promote key values of the F4F Programme around the world. The International Children’s F4F Forum will be participated by famous sportsmen, journalists, and public figures who support the project and provide their thoughts and inspiration to the young athletes.

The young ambassadors will also participate in the Nine Values School programme, where they will be taught about the 9 key values of the F4F programme (friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions and honour, under the guidance of young coaches and the supervision of famous players.


BACKGROUND- Football for Friendship Programme

Since 2013, PJSC Gazprom has been organizing the International Children’s social programme Football for Friendship. The key values promoted by the programme participants include friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, tradition and honour. The participants are Young Players (girls and boys, including those physically challenged), as well as Young Journalists covering the F4F events within the framework of the The Football for Friendship International Children’s Press Center. Geographical scope of the programme expand annually: from 8 countries in 2013 to 211 countries in 2018. For the past five years, more than 3,700 people have participated in the programme. Football for Friendship is supported by FIFA, UEFA, International Olympic Committee, football federations of various countries, international children’s charity funds, and world’s leading football clubs.

32 International Teams of Friendship were formed during the Open Draw, as well as playing roles for each Young Player from each country (goalkeeper, defender, midfielder or forward) were determined. After definition of the roles for the Young Players, their coaches will be selected this way: 19 countries which will represent the Young Coaches were defined in an unpredictable manner as a result of an Open Draw, 11 coaches will be chosen from the cities hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, 2 Young Coaches will be selected from the best participants of the previous seasons of the Football for Friendship programme.