Youth Soccer News: Eurocamp 2012 Tournament Opens in Wroclaw, Poland
Exactly two months after the final whistle of the UEFA EURO 2012, the beautiful city of Wroclaw in Poland is once again host to a major football event. In front of the iconic Centennial Hall, over 250 participants from 41 European countries gathered for the Eurocamp 2012 tournament. The 4-a-side tournament with mixed-nationality teams was declared open on Friday, August 31, with a welcome ceremony by representatives from streetfootballworld, the European Parliament, UEFA and the City of Wroclaw.
The tournament, played on a small-side pitch with 27 teams, is the highlight of a week-long event which started on August 28. All matches at the tournament are played without referees and the teams have to agree on “fair-play” rules before the game. Boys and girls are together on the pitch, where dialogue and mutual understanding is as important as scoring goals.
For 14-year-old Elena from Moldova, football is just one aspect of coming together at Eurocamp 2012. "I'm glad to be here because we have a lot of fun and I like to play football with the boys,” she explained. “I also made a lot of new friends. I really enjoy being with the girls from Greece because they are so friendly. It's a lot of fun because we're all different but similar at the same time.”
"This event is more than a football tournament, it's a celebration of how football unites people across European borders," said Johannes Axster from streetfootballworld. "We have been working for ten years to strengthen football’s role in community and youth development. Eurocamp 2012 brings powerful partners together to celebrate and further expand this idea."
The event counts on the support of major European partners like the European Parliament, the European Commission and UEFA. Apart from football, the event focuses on learning and exchanges across cultural divides and creating intercultural experiences.
“Eurocamp 2012 is a true European experience for the participants," stated Doris Pack, the European Parliament's Chairperson of the Committee on Culture and Education. “Coming together from across Europe with diverse social backgrounds, the young people unite behind their common passion for football, develop important life skills and grasp the opportunity to shape their own future.”
Young people from various European countries unite at Eurocamp 2012 not only to play football but to learn for life.
On the first two days the delegations came together for over 30 workshop sessions on topics ranging from preventing intolerance through social integration to healthy lifestyles. All delegations were invited by UEFA's Football Federations based on their commitment to work with disadvantaged communities in their home countries.
"I believe strongly in the power of football to unite individuals, groups and entire nations. Football can be used as a bridge for communication between the many diverse European cultures and societies," said Peter Gilliéron, Chairman of the UEFA Fair Play and Social Responsibility Committee after the kick-off. Eurocamp 2012 is part of the official UEFA EURO 2012 legacy program RESPECT your Health.
The UEFA EURO 2012 might be over but the Eurocamp 2012 shows that football is alive and well and a valuable tool for cultural integration and social inclusion extending from the Faroe Islands to Israel.