Chelsea foundation plays part in children forum

Gazprom's Football for Friendship initiative proved a big success as more than 400 youngsters, including a group representing the Chelsea Foundation, attended an international Children's Forum in Lisbon ahead of the Champions League final.

Football for Friendship, now in its second year, celebrates the role of football in bringing people together focusing on basic principles such as peace, friendship, victory, health, equality and fair play.

Prior to the Forum there was a Street Soccer tournament featuring 16 teams from 16 countries, and all the children participating, aged between 12 and 14, attended the Champions League final at Benfica's Estadio da Luz on Saturday night.

The Chelsea Foundation were represented by our Surrey Development Centre Under-14s, with Louie Annesley the team's captain and flagbearer for the event, implemented by our official global energy partner Gazprom.

'I found the overall trip very enjoyable and lots of fun,' said Louie.'Watching the final was my favourite part but the Forum was well organised and lots of fun.

'I met lots of people and made some new friends and I think that these sorts of things should be more frequent as kids of our generation will benefit from it.'

The Football for Friendship initiative is part of the Gazprom for Children programme, with the major goal to develop younger generations' critical values, respect for other cultures and nationalities, equality, as well as stimulating their interest in healthy lifestyles by encouraging children and teenagers to participate in sport.

There were plenty of highlights with Franz Beckenbauer hosting the Forum, while former Portugal goalkeeper Vitor Baia also spoke and current Ukraine captain Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and Portuguese international defender Luis Neto attended.

'It was a great weekend and I can't thank Gazprom enough,' said Chelsea Foundation coach Dean Steninger, who joined the youngsters in Lisbon alongside Ben Mitchell.

'Franz was inspirational on stage and spoke about the principles of the initiative and how important they are.The players really listened to him and you could see that in the way they interacted with others.

'The final was of course the icing on the cake but there is no doubt the kids learnt a lot from the trip and have made friends from all over Europe.'