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Chelsea Foundation youngsters head to Lisbon

A group of youngsters from the Chelsea Foundation will be representing the club in Lisbon this weekend as Champions League sponsors Gazprom celebrate the role of football in bringing people together.

Chelsea Foundation coaches Dean Steninger and Ben Mitchell will lead our Surrey Development Centre Under-14s in a Street Soccer tournament featuring 16 teams from 16 countries as part of the 'Football for Friendship' project.

The initiative implemented by our official Global Energy Partner, Gazprom, will also see the youngsters attend an International Children's Forum hosted by Franz Beckenbauer before they head over to Benfica's Estádio da Luz to watch Real Madrid face city rivals Atletico in the Champions League final.

Football for Friendship brings together basic principles such as peace, friendship, victory, health, equality and fair play and Chelsea Foundation football development officer for Surrey, Steninger, believes the youngsters attending will benefit hugely from the experience.

He said: 'It is a fantastic once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the team. To watch a Champions League final is obviously a massive reward, but they will gain a great deal both on the field and off it from the trip.

'All the players are good but they are not yet at academy level so the experience of playing kids from other cultures and countries will play a key role in their development.

'But away from the football they will get to meet other children from so many different places, forge relationships with these guys and develop as young people.

'Getting to meet someone like Franz and ask him questions is also fantastic, they all know who he is and can't wait to engage with him.'

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.

Chelsea's representatives in Lisbon will join youngsters from Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey for the event and Steninger praised the work Gazprom are doing

'What Football for Friendship is trying to achieve is fantastic and mirrors much of the work we do at the Chelsea Foundation,' he added.

'Football can help build friendships and to have the opportunity to that with likeminded youngsters from all over Europe gives our kids a chance to grow and learn in a way they couldn't without this trip.

'We know the trip is not all about winning, it is about having fun and enjoying yourselves, ideals which are fundamental to the Foundation.

'Having said that we have good expectations and will hopefully go out there and perform well, it will be tough but we will have fun and give a good account of ourselves.'

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