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Football wishes come true for children living in Tirana’s residential institution


29 February 2012, Tirana, Albania: Back in September 2011, to achieve one of CPSN’s project objectives and in accordance with the concept of child participation, children living in the residential institutions of Tirana, Durrës, Vlora and Saranda were engaged in focus group discussions with the purpose of identifying their needs and desires on potential activities and programs to be involved in. During these sessions it became obvious that for a particular group of 16 children from Zyber Hallulli [Tirana’s public residential institution] playing football was the biggest wish. And so to make this wish come true Terre des hommes Albania, with the support of its donors like UNICEF, the Austrian Development Cooperation, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, etc., gathered the group of children together, contracted as a coach an ex-football player and approached Albania’s Football Association for collaboration and support. The outcomes of these efforts were celebrated last Wednesday, February 29, 2012, at an event organized at the premises of the children’s elementary school.
During this event, the Zyber Hallulli Residential Institution Youth’s Football Team was officially recognized and federated by the Albanian Football Association, meaning that now the team will be eligible to participate in all official activities organized by the State’s Football Association under the Youth League Category. At this event, Tdh was praised by the Director of the Institution and the Albanian Football Association for their continuous efforts to ensure the well-being and healthy development of children living in residential institutions. “This is a wonderful collaboration with many positive outcomes. The children will not just play football but they will be able to compete with other teams in their age group. By participating in various events to be organized by the Association, they will also be able to socialize and interact with other children,” remarked the Director of Zyber Hallulli.
The team’s captain, speaking on behalf of all the children, also thanked Tdh and the Association for their dedication and efforts in realizing this wish of theirs. After being presented with the team’s official jersey and uniform, he said: “Today, we are a team and we are very happy and thankful. We promise to train hard and to win a tournament one day.” The event, which was also televised by local and national media, concluded with the distribution of complete sets of gears and equipment donated by the Football Association and its sponsors.
The Association pleased by this collaboration expressed a desire for future partnerships with Tdh, in organizing sports events to benefit children of Albania. Such future partnerships are already underway. Starting in March and following, Tdh’s MOVE project staff in partnership with the Albanian Football Association will organize a series of sports and games focused events throughout Albania. Children living in residential institutions will also be invited to join in. MOVE project, generously supported by UEFA, is a project which aims to improve the well-being of children and to help prevent child exploitation through games and sports. [FG]