Jakarta. Muhammad Raffa Yasin and Alfonso Hutabarat, both 12 years-old, got the opportunity of a lifetime after being selected as representatives for Indonesia at the global Football for Friendship, or F4F, social program, supported by Russia’s natural gas company Gazprom and world football governing body FIFA.
Taking on different roles, Yasin and Alfonso will join children from 211 countries in Moscow in June for the program’s sixth edition. They were selected as the program ambassadors from Indonesia after an extensive assessment process conducted by the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI).
Yasin will join the Grizzly Bear team, along with other young footballers from Kosovo, Eritrea, Ghana, Qatar and Guyana. The team will be a part of the 32 international teams of Friendship and play against each other at the Gazprom Football for Friendship International Championship. The teams are assembled using the "football for friendship" principles – athletes of different nationalities, different genders and different physical abilities play together on one team.
Alfonso will take on the role of a young journalist and report all activities of the program as part of the International Children Press Center. He will also spread awareness on the Nine Values – friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions and honor – of the F4F program.
They will also participate in the Sixth Football for Friendship international Children’s Forum in Russia, where the children will meet their peers from other countries to share their experience and discuss with famous footballers and journalists on how to promote key values of the F4F program around the world. After competing and discussing, the children will attend the FIFA World Cup 2018 opening ceremony and first match.
Gatot Widakdo, head of media relations and digital promotions at PSSI, said in a release that they are happy to support young football players in their efforts to promote key values that PSSI believes in.
"Initiatives such as these highlights the power of football in breaking barriers, uniting youngsters and creating a positive impact in the local community," he said.
Football for Friendship is an international children’s social program initiated by the Russian energy company Gazprom in 2013. It includes several sports and educational events held in different countries around the globe. The program has entered its sixth edition and has expanded to 211 countries and regions this year from 64 in 2017 and only eight in 2013.