The 4th International Backyard Football Tournament has concluded in Moscow with Kazakhstan beating the hosts in the final. The event aims to promote sport among children and every year goes from strength to strength.
In 2011 20 countries took part in the now annual tournament, and this year’s event was no less successful, despite only 14 teams taking part. The drop in the number of teams was more to do with organizers deciding to branch the tournament out into other areas of sport rather than just football.
“The tournament has become more multi-dimensional. We started with just a football tournament back in 2009 we now realize we have a project under the premise of “Children of the world choose sport!” where we want to include other aspects of interaction between the teams. This year we included a chess tournament and a photo competition, in which all teams were involved,” explains Maria Butova, head of special projects at Sport Express who organized the event.
“No doubt, there’ll be even more diversification in the coming years, but football is still the main catalyst for the children,” she says.
Teams from all over the CIS countries including Belarus and Moldova were battling it out, while teams like Israel and Iran – were resolving matters on the pitch – even if the adults of these countries cannot seem to find common ground.
And it was Kazakhstan and hosts Russia who eventually made it to the final. Home advantage had clearly helped the Russian side reach this far, but it was Kazakhstan, who stole the show putting five unanswered goals past the home side and taking the trophy.
The tournament also attracted a few prominent figures, including CSKA Moscow coach Leonid Slutsky.
“I was invited to take part in the trophy presentation and I think it’s a big thing because in the past backyard football was one of the main producers of footballers we see playing professionally,” he said adding that with this tournament he “hopes to see more such talent come through”.
When asked about whether he had spotted any future stars, Slutsky was optimistically coy.
“It’s of course tough to gauge, because the kids are still young. But on the whole the level of the tournament is growing every year and those kids I saw in the final left a very good impression,” he said.
But of course, this event is ultimately meant more to allow children from around the world to meet and mingle, while playing the sport they love, with the main goal to continue pushing a healthy lifestyle among the young.
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