Lastega ja lastele

Auhinnaga „Lastega ja lastele“ täname ja tunnustame inimesi ja organisatsioone, kelle uued algatused või pikemaajaline tegevus on positiivselt mõjutanud laste ja perede käekäiku.
Tunnustusauhinna taotluste voor on avatud 15. aprillini.

Esita taotlus

“It was a great day! I got to play ball a lot!”

On May 25, the Lilleküla Sportland Arena football stadium was buzzing with 150 kids, all excited and eager, having travelled here from all over Estonia. All kids were welcome, boys and girls, football fans and onlookers alike. There were those who could not wait to take part in the activities and those who needed some encouragement from others first.

The SEB Charity Fund in cooperation with the Estonian Football Association (EJL) organised a feel-good event promoting exercise and ball games for children from substitute homes and safe houses. Janno Kivisild, the Estonian national team assistant coach, Teet Allas who has played for the Estonian national team 73 times, Katrin Kaarna coach trainer at the EJL, Kethy Õunpuu, the captain of the women’s team, Karel Voolaid, U-19 national team head coach, and Ants Juhvelt, the head of community football at the EJL, were ready at the stadium for the skill practice and matches.

Football is a team sport which teaches cooperation and empathy and gives children an opportunity to test their speed, stamina and analytical skills. When the kids are without a daily kind word of guidance from a mother and father, then the encouragement and support of athletes and sports professionals can lead many of them towards a more active lifestyle.

“I never knew football could be so fun”

The teenage boy was beaming with sincere pride when the coach had praised him for the way he controlled the ball. It had been a long time since he felt like he was good at something – when his agility was worthy of praise. For once, there was something he excelled at!

Little Dasha, 6 years old, was bending around the coach with a football, proudly presenting tricks he had picked up from the older kids, at the same time explaining that you need to hit the ball with the side of the foot and not your toes. Witnessing the child’s sheer joy of physical activity and manoeuvring the ball skilfully, the grown-ups could not help but start chasing the ball themselves. Together, it’s more fun!

“Just look at the green grass and all the footballers!”

On the great green football pitch there was room for all, both coaches and children, for playing against each other or sending the ball towards the goal with precise shots. The kids loved the fact that the practice was divided by age groups so that everyone was able to engage in the game safely at their own level. As the football event was being held for the third time, it was also great to meet old friends and make new ones with whom to play in the future.

When the summery heat became too much, it was time to step into the indoor football arena to cool down. It was so interesting to see a long line of footballers practicing their moves, and to head back to the pitch later to try the same tricks.

After three or four hours, just before exhaustion would start to set in, the kids gathered into a large circle, in the middle of which, like magic, appeared a brave footballer with a burning ball. There was much gasping and many wide eyes, when Eno Lints, the best freestyle footballer in Estonia brought his years of training and great skill before the kids.

Having seen the amazing stunts, all the kids were given t-shirts with autographs from all the footballers and their own football to take with them to play with back home. Before heading back with great memories from the fun day, the whole group was gathered together on the grass for a group picture. Several white balls were tossed in the air just in time to be captured by the camera. With the ball, signed by the freestyle footballer, under her arm and a tear of joy in her eye, a small girl declared to her teacher: “You cannot take this ball to the bath, can you? The ball has writing on it!”

“I want to go to football practice!”

On the way back, there were many impressions to share. When a day creates such a spark that leaves a 7-year-old gasping and wanting to start practicing football immediately, then the football day has been a total success. There was one boy who had quit football some time ago, but with the newly found motivation, promised to get back on track with his training. Back home, for several days football was the main discussion topic and the kids would look at football magazines. Time and again they were begging their teachers for a game on the stadium grass – naturally, with the teacher playing along as well. What was even more surprising, they also knew how to lose. The kids would draw their conclusions from losing and at the next moment, were already waiting for the next match. Together, it is double the fun! The balls that were given as gifts went straight into daily use.

Artyom, aged 12, decided to take his new ball to school for the rest of the school year. Although he cannot play during classes and it is dangerous to play by the busy streets, Artyom decided that his companion on the way to school and back will be his new ball. Reigo, at the same time, was thinking about showing all the tricks he had remembered from the event and mastered to the other kids at school who had not attended the event.

Nikita, aged 7, is not taking his football to kindergarten. He is the oldest in his group and if he brought the ball with him, all the other kids would rush to play with it. While it is not very nice not to share, Nikita still does not feel good about letting others play with his new ball. So, the boy asked the teacher to keep his ball safely in the locker while he is away. It is hardly likely that the teacher would take it for a kick outside while Nikita is at the kindergarten. But at night, before placing the ball in the locker, Nikita tells stories to his new friend and takes care to complete the nightly routine for the ball also. Each night, the boy wipes the ball down with a white rag he asked from his teacher to clean it and puts it away to wait for the next day’s activities.

When it was bedtime, spirits were still high and there were difficulties falling asleep. Finally when football fever had eased, before falling asleep many children whispered to themselves that they had a great day and they hope to chase the ball at the big green stadium with their friends next year.

Football is a captivating team sport, making it difficult to remain just a bystander. The children found inspiration and encouragement in their coaches and were surprised that they could play as an equal with the trainer. It was wonderful to see young people discovering their athletic talent and using the coaches’ praise to cultivate inner strength and self-assurance.

The kids were more than satisfied and their teachers also felt that the joint activities had left them in a relaxed and motivated mood for the next day to come. What is certain is that this summer many footballs will be aimed towards goal with a skilled kick and victorious shouting will sound from many backyards. Everyone agreed that the football day was really great and already started to dream about the next one. Many discovered their love for football that day, wanting to attend football summer camp or to start regular football practice in the autumn.

Merike Villard
MTÜ SEB Heategevusfond
 

 

 

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