Justus Joseph and Bethany Pakakota, 12 year old football enthusiasts from Papua New Guinea, have been selected as country’s representatives at the global FOOTBALL FOR FRIENDSHIP (F4F) social programme. The F4F programme, supported by Gazprom and FIFA aims at developing youth football and a healthy lifestyle as well as promoting tolerance, open-mindedness and respect of different cultures and nationalities between children from across the globe. Papua New Guinea joins the programme for the first time and will participate alongside 210 other countries and regions.
Justus will join Young footballers from around the world in Moscow in June 2018. The children will be a part of the 32 International Teams of Friendship and play against each other in the Gazprom FOOTBALL FOR FRIENDSHIP International Championship. The friendly tournament aims to bring together children from around the world and celebrate the unifying spirit of football.
Bethany will act as the young journalist and report on all the local and global activities of the F4F programme as part of the International Children’s Press Center. She will also spread awareness on the Nine Values (friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions and honour) of the F4F programme.
Justus and Bethany will also participate in the Sixth Football for Friendship International Children’s Forum in Russia, which will allow youngsters to meet their peers from other countries, share their experiences, and discuss with famous footballers and journalists on how to promote key values of the F4F Programme around the world
The sixth season of the F4F programme will conclude with a visit by the participating children to the opening ceremony and the first match of the FIFA World Cup 2018
A sports enthusiast, Justus started playing football at the age of 8. Justus has won several awards such as The Top Goal Scorer, Best Attacking Player and Most Valuable Player in football tournaments across the country. He currently plays for his school team, Koroboro International School Football team, and dreams to play for a professional football club in the future. This talented, young footballer believes it is important to promote friendship, equality and peace because he believes that we need each of these three things to brighten our world.
Bethany is a football enthusiast and an avid reader. A Liverpool FC fan, Bethany was exposed to football at an early age as her dad was the coach of a local football team. As a kid, she used to train with her dad’s team which developed her interest in football. A firm believer in the power of friendship, she believes that everyone should help one another and respect each other regardless of one’s ethnicity, gender, religion and status.
Speaking on the selection of the young ambassadors by the Papua New Guinea Football Association, Acting President John Wesley Gonjuan said, “The selection of the young ambassadors from Papua New Guinea is an extension of our support to this unique global initiative. The programme is a wonderful opportunity for the ambassadors to build ties of friendship among children from around the world and foster peace and harmony through the beautiful game of football. We wish our young ambassadors all the best for the programme and look forward to their contribution in promoting the key values of the programme, in Russia, as well as in Papua New Guinea.”
“I would also like to thank FIFA Partner Gazprom and FIFA for giving the opportunity to Papua New Guinea Football Association to nominate two young ambassadors from Papua New Guinea to participate in the 6th Gazprom Football for Friendship Programme in Russia,” said Gonjuan.