LAHORE-Gazprom Football for Friendship International Children’s Programme Global Director Vladimir Serov has said that F4F programme will help Pakistan in the long run to promote the game.

Talking to The Nation, Vladimir said: “We do believe that ‘Football for Friendship’ will become a strong platform for creating fruitful relations with Pakistan Football Federation (PFF). And this is very important for us that within the framework of the programme, children from Pakistan have a chance to tell other participants about their motherland, traditions, customs and daily routine. They may share not only the key values of the ‘F4F programme’, such as friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions and honour, but also their vision of sports development."

About the programme, he said: “Every year young ambassadors of different nationalities, backgrounds, genders and physical abilities from across the world meet and play together and promote friendship, tolerance and peace among their peers. We are very glad that last year Pakistan joined ‘Football for Friendship programme’. It is a great example of international cooperation between the countries in humanitarian field.”

To a query regarding his viewpoint on selection procedures and the system Pakistan developed to implement this, the F4F Global head said: “I think Pakistan made a wonderful and effective selection procedure this year – a vast playground of six working stations was created. All the skills of the young footballers could be checked there. Trainings, workshops as well as interviews with the children were organised professionally and efficiently."

He said: “I also liked that young journalists were examined in practice – the children themselves covered the football events, wrote articles as well as met face-to-face for an interview. This is a perfect example of how elimination competitions have to be organised. Thanks to serious and careful approach, we have managed to make such a great global F4F team of young talented and active participants.

“Moreover, I think that participation of Pakistan in ‘Football for Friendship programme’ gives a perfect opportunity to its young gifted boys and girls to show their abilities worldwide. It gives them confidence, friendship, new emotions and make them more mature. I believe that Pakistan as well as participants from all over the world will gain many leadership skills and face new lucky chances during this Football for Friendship season,” he added.

When asked about F4F’s working relationship with Pakistan, Vladimir said: “F4F has strong and well-established ties with Pakistan Football Federation. Each year, we exchange ideas on various activities conducted in frames of the F4F programme, we organise conference calls and share experience on working with our young participants. Our young players and journalists maintain relations with each other even after the end of the forum. They chat in social networks, send photos to each other and discuss their everyday lives. This is the best indicator of the programme’s success.”

Replying to another query regarding last year’s Pakistan delegation and their performance at such a vast platform, he said: “We’ve been working on the promotion of F4F programme for several years and I can note that it is always interesting to work with people from different cultures. Pakistan is not an exception. Last year, young ambassadors from this country were really hard working, they were actively engaged in all the activities. I believe Obaidullah and M Yusuf will have promising future.”

About impact of the overall support from PFF and F4F Pakistan head, the global head said: “We deeply appreciate support of the PFF and Fahad Khan particularly. It is obvious that Fahad truly believes in our mission to strengthen tolerance and respect between nations all over the world and he is ready to make all possible efforts to promote this initiative. This year, he has personally taken part in the selection of the young footballer for the new season of the programme. I’m looking forward to meet this year’s Pakistan young representatives.”