Rowville Sports Academy student-athlete to fly the flag at the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Students unite in Football and Friendship

The 2018 Football for Friendship (F4F) programme is transforming a FIFA World Cup dream into reality for our Year 7 student Luca Durso who has been selected to fly to Russia to represent Australia at the F4F programme.

Taking place in Moscow on 8-15 June ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, F4F is an annual International Children’s social programme organised by Gazprom, an international company supporting global social projects and setting new standards in relation to social policy. One of the experiences includes a role in the opening ceremony of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and tickets to the opening match, Russia vs Saudi Arabia.

Durso will represent Australia as a Player giving the country even more presence ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. He will join other 12-year-old football players and journalists from 211 countries and regions to participate in the 8-day programme.

Luca says “I am passionate about football and would love to play for the Socceroos one day. It is a dream to represent Australia and visit Russia to see the World Cup.”

Luca also plays for Melbourne City Football Club’s Under 14 team. He was scouted last year and had to try out and play with the team where he received a place and played for the Under 14’s as a 12 year old. Luca trains 5 nights a week and plays games on Sundays. His favourite thing about playing for Melbourne City is his excellent coaches who are helping him develop his skills. He hopes to one day play for their senior team.

The opportunity came about because of Ian Greener’s (Head Coach – RSA) relationship with Lengo Football Academy. Lengo are partners of Football for Friendship in Russia and are responsible for organising 12 countries in this region to attend the event.

Year 7 students from Rowville Sports Academy and Overnewton College came together on April 30 to take part in a small-sided tournament based on the 2018 Gazprom Football for Friendship (F4F) programme format. Held at Rowville Secondary College, students from the two Colleges united in ‘teams of friendship’ with 3 students from each school combining to form ‘teams of friendship’, named after teams competing in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

In June, 211 countries will take part in this global initiative, including Luca Durso (RSA) and Noah Borg (Overnewton), who will not only be representing Rowville and Overnewton in Moscow, but be the two selected ambassadors for Australia.

Rowville Head Coach and event convener, Ian Greener, introduced the dual coloured ‘friendship bracelet’ and shared its significance.

“When you wear this Friendship bracelet on your wrist, you are showing your willingness to follow the principles of this movement: friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions and honour! These principles are not only for the football field. Feel free to follow them anywhere, anytime! Share a bracelet with a friend and start the race to peace, equality and fairness.”

The students exchanged bracelets, met their new teammates and began the round-robin competition. In the end, team Russia defeated Australia in the final.

Emanuel Saakai, Founder, CEO and Head Coach of Lengo Football Academy thanked all of the students for taking part in this event and encouraged the children to keep enjoying their football and working towards their fullest potential.

Gallery – Football For Friendship Match