2 MFA Student-Athletes End F4F Tourney in Moscow

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Liberia's two representatives, Sao Jackson and Zeta Kromah (R) at the Sapsan Arena in Moscow during the F4F World Championship Photo: Anthony Kokoi

Two student-athletes from the Monrovia Football Academy – Zeta Kromah and Sao Jackson – have climaxed their participation in the 2018 ‘Football for Friendship’ program as Liberia’s representatives in Moscow, Russia.

Jackson and Kromah arrived in Moscow on Saturday, June 9 to represent Liberia the international children’s social program and joined young footballers and young journalists from 211 countries participating in the Gazprom Football for Friendship International Championship.

On day one, Jackson formed part of the International Friendship Camp where he participated in a training program with his team-Galapagos Sea Lions which comprised of players and young journalists from Cyprus, Bangladesh, China, Turkey, Caicos Island, and Anguilla.

It was not a good start for Galapagos Sea Lions after they lost 2-5 against Cheetah. They later recovered from their earlier defeat and their first win in the championship with a huge 7-0 victory against Gharial. Jackson was instrumental in his team’s victory and provided the assist for the first goal. Unfortunately, the team could not make it to the final rounds after they suffered a 2-3 loss to Humpback Whale.

The F4F World Championship was won by team Chimpanzee who beat Komodo Dragon 2-1 to claim the champion title. The winning team included children from Benin, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Congo, Malawi, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and a Russian coach.

Meanwhile, Student-athletes were used to propagate Football for Friendship’s nine key values, namely friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, tradition, and honor during the program.

Following the climax of the World Championship, the two student-athletes later attended the International Football for Friendship Children’s Forum at Moskvarium on June 13 to share their experiences and hold discussions with their peers, famous footballers, and journalists. On the final day of the program, the two kids along with the entire Liberia delegation and participants of the program assembled at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow to watch the opening match of the FIFA World Cup between host Russia and Saudi Arabia. It was another colorful moment for student-athlete Jackson who carried the Liberian flag during the opening ceremony.

“I am excited that I was a part of the 2018 Football for Friendship program in Moscow. It was great to meet my peers from other parts of the world and sharing ideas about football, and our cultures. Moreover, it was a great moment for me to enter a big stadium and watch the opening match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup,” student-athlete Kromah said.

At the International children’s forum, boys and girls including some with disabilities as Young Players, Young Journalists and Young Coaches were united by a single common mission: the promotion of human values, such as friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions, and honor. The representatives of the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation, Russian Olympic Committee, FIFA, Heads of the Football Federations, football stars, Olympic and Paralympic Champions, public figures became the honored guests of the event. Iker Casillas, a Spanish football player, goalkeeper, and captain of Portu (Portugal) greeted the young participants of the Football for Friendship program.

The Forum was held at the center of oceanography and marine biology “Moskvarium” – a unique complex, the largest indoor oceanarium in Europe. During the show, the children were able to see the marine inhabitants at arm’s length. This year, the ecological initiative of the Football for Friendship program is devoted to attracting public attention to the problems of extinction of rare species of animals.

“I am glad to welcome all the participants, organizers and spectators of the Forum. Children gathered here and united under the aegis of such a wonderful game as football, regardless of their nationality. The greatest achievement of the project is that young participants really became friends. Such humanitarian projects help people to understand each other,” said the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Olga Golodets.

“Gazprom being one the most social-oriented company in the world has always been supporting the promotion of children’s sports. Football is the most popular sport and I think it fits the best in order to unite people on the basis of values that are close to each person on our Planet, no matter what country they live in and what language they speak. This is the possibility for the children to find new friends, to learn, progress and achieve success in sports together.” said the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom Viktor Zubkov.

“I’m pleased to see so many happy faces from all over the world in the International Children’s Forum Football for Friendship! I would like to express my gratitude for the invitation to this extraordinary event as the two fundamentals of the program are the most important to my life: friendship and football. I hope that football will open for you the doors not only to sports but to every sphere of your lives! Here in the Forum, there are 211 participants from the FIFA countries; there are many people from all over the world, and each of them adores football. Football is a great platform for social changes to make our world more open and tolerant. Enjoy this unique experience and save your energy for the World Cup that is to start very soon!” declared Iker Casillas, Spanish football player, goalkeeper, and captain of Portu (Portugal).

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