Following its success as a co-host of UEFA EURO 2012, the Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU) has also been active at grassroots level with a number of activities taking place as part of the Open Fun Football Schools (OFFS) initiative.
The programme, founded in 1998, is run by the Cross Cultures Project Association (CCPA), a core partner within UEFA's social responsibility strategy. It uses football as a tool to stimulate peaceful co-existence, gender equality, tolerance and social cohesion in countries and communities affected by war and ethnic conflicts.
Played under the philosophy of 'sports for all', a series of 20 five-day festivals were held all over Ukraine involving over 3,800 children of over 30 nationalities including orphans, those with special needs and youngsters from vulnerable and single-parent families. A total of 622 volunteers were also involved in the activities.
At the events, the main focus was placed not on the technical ability of the children, but to engage them into a healthy lifestyle, as well as helping to establish friendships and bringing together parents of different social and religious backgrounds.
During UEFA EURO 2012, an OFFS 'fair play' festival was organised in the centre of Kyiv with the aim of giving disadvantaged children the opportunity to become involved in the tournament. All of the youngsters received UEFA EURO 2012 gifts, while some were also given tickets to matches during the competition.
The OFFS programme is continuing to go from strength-to-strength each year and is now active in ten European countries – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Activities have also been arranged in Iraq and Lebanon.
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