Children taking PNG to the world


TWELVE-year-old football enthusiasts Justus Joseph and Bethany Pakakota have been selected as the country’s representatives at the global Football For Friendship (F4F) social programme.
The programme, supported by Gazprom and the world body Fifa, aims to develop 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 countries and regions.
Joseph will join young footballers from around the world in Moscow in June. The children will be a part of the 32 international teams to play each other in the Gazprom F4F International Championship.
The tournament aims to bring together children from around the world to celebrate football.
Pakakota will act as a young journalist and report on all the local and global activities of the programme as part of the International Children’s Press Centre.
She will also spread awareness on friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, and traditions and honour of the programme.
Joseph and Pakakota will also participate in the sixth Football for Friendship International Children’s Forum in Russia, which will allow youngsters to share their experiences, and discuss with famous footballers and journalists on how to promote key values of the programme around the world.
The programme will conclude with a visit by the children to the opening ceremony and the first match of the Fifa World Cup.
A sports enthusiast, Joseph started playing football at the age of eight.
He has won several awards such as the top goal scorer, best attacking player and most valuable player in football tournaments across PNG.
He plays for his school team, Koroboro International, and dreams to play for professional football in the future.
Joseph 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.
Pakakota is a football enthusiast and an avid reader.
A Liverpool FC fan, she was exposed to football at an early age as her dad was the coach of a local football team.
As a child, she used to train with her dad’s team which developed her interest in football. A firm believer in the power of friendship, Pakakota believes that everyone should help one another and respect each other regardless of one’s ethnicity, gender, religion and status.
Papua New Guinea Football Association acting president John Wesley Gonjuan said: “The selection of the young ambassadors from 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 and look forward to their contribution in promoting the key values of the programme in Russia as well as in Papua New Guinea.”

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