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Great experience for 2 Pinoy kids

By Jerome Lagunzad

Promising footballer Aj Boy Victoriano and budding journalist Matteo De Venecia came back home with great experience and valuable lessons they gained in the 6th Gazprom Football for Friendship International Championship at the Sapsan Arena Stadium in Moscow, Russia recently.

Victoriano, 12, played as a midfielder for Team Komodo Dragon and put on a stellar performance with his ball control, tackling techniques and setting up plays for his teammates that helped them made the final where they lost, 1-2, to Team Chimpanzee in a tightly-contested showdown.

Victoriano also got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup last June 14 as the country’s flag bearer. He also witnessed the host country’s 5-0 demolition of Saudi Arabia in the tourney opener at the sprawling Luzhinki Stadium.

“I am happy to have been given the opportunity to represent my country in the Football for Friendship program,” said Victoriano. “The program has helped me to make a lot of friends from different countries, and discuss, practice and play football with them.

“I was also given the opportunity to participate in the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup which is an experience that I will never forget. This has been an amazing journey and I hope to keep in touch with all my new friends from around the world.”

It was no different for De Venecia, an 8th Grader from Royal College who got the chance a chance to learn from well-known journalists representing the leading Russian sports media outlets as a part of their workshop.

De Venecia and his fellow young journalists prepared news for renowned international media houses and published daily issues of the children’s Football for Friendship newspaper.

The forum was addressed by Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Olga Golodets, legendary Spanish goalkeeper, Iker Casillas and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom Victor Zubkov among other delegates.

Team Socceroo Football Club managing director Michael Reyes said: “We are delighted to have participated in the Football for Friendship Program through our young ambassadors, Aj Boy and Matteo.

“It is our constant endeavor to use football as a tool to instill core values, break barriers and promote integration among children, which coincides with the key values endorsed by the F4F Program. We are positive that the kids will act as ambassadors of all the important lessons and fundamental human values that they have learned in the program and spread it among their friends and family in Philippines.”