Young footballers lead global change

Jonty Burggraaf and Isla Ganley

New Zealand Football for Friendship Young Ambassadors, Isla Ganley and Jonty ​Burggraaf ​are aiming to connect cultures through football by sharing their message of friendship and equality at F4F Oceania.

Isla and Jonty will join fellow F4F Young Ambassadors from Australia, Tonga, and young players from local clubs at the two day football event at Tauranga City AFC’s Links Avenue ground held on October 27-28.

The weekend of football is grounded by F4F’s nine values:  friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, tradition and honour.

A training clinic delivered by international coaches on Saturday October 27 will be followed by a hotly contested sixteen team 5-aside tournament to round off the weekend on Sunday October 28.

In the name of equality and fairness, the two football fans have been working with their Australian and Tongan counterparts undertaking a football kit drive to collect gear to be sent to kids and communities in need in the South Pacific. 

So far the Oceania F4F Young Ambassadors have secured football gear and equipment donations from professional A-League clubs, Wellington Phoenix FC and Melbourne City FC, as well as many other local clubs and schools. 

“One of the main things that stood out to me in Russia was how lucky we are in New Zealand to have access to quality resources and equipment compared to lots of other countries.

“This is why I am excited to be part of this project to help our Pacific neighbours” said Isla, who initially participated in the International programme as a young journalist but will be showing her football skills at the New Zealand programme.

 “Playing in a team at the F4F tournament with players from different countries in Russia, I saw that some players were without the basic football equipment such as boots.

“It is so cool that I can still take part in the F4F campaign and it has encouraged me to continue on to changing the world through football.”

The pair even stood up in front of their Mount Maunganui Intermediate classmates and teachers during an assembly on Friday 19 October 2018 calling for for their peers and families to donate pre-loved kids football boots to be added to an already impressive football gear haul.

Tongan F4F Young Ambassadors, Kalisitiane Seau and Anita Hufanga, from will facilitate the delivery of the gear with help from the Tongan Football Association and kit distribution partner, Reagan Milstein Foundation, who will also ensure the gear gets to the most suited communities. 

“This gear will be going back to Tonga with participants and then to other parts of the Pacific over the coming weeks.

“We are thrilled to be working with all partners especially the F4F Young Ambassadors who are driving an excellent cause - collecting pre-loved football gear for less fortunate communities in the South Pacific,” says director of Reagan Milstein Foundation, Kevin Milstein

The young participants are set to receive football training and mentoring from elite coaches from Tauranga City AFC’s newly-announced youth development programme, and is being led by New Zealand U17 coach, Sam Wilkinson.

Wilkinson has praised the initiative taken by the F4F Young Ambassadors to get a project like this off the ground.

“These programmes are great for player development in terms of receiving technical training and also exposes them to how football can connect cultures from around the globe. 

“I’ll also be able to take a look at some younger players up close and I’m sure these kids will be out to impress.”

Tauranga City AFC Chairman, Brendon McHugh, says he is excited about the club’s involvement in the F4F programme.

“We're really proud to be hosting the first F4F event in Oceania. After sending Isla and Jonty to Russia for the global event this year we had no hesitation in supporting this event with F4F and all of our global partners.

“It's great to see clubs from around the region keen to participate and we're looking forward to hosting them at Links. I'm sure the kids, coaches and supporters will get a lot out of the weekend."

F4F Oceania 2018 has been led by F4F Young Ambassadors from New Zealand, Australia and Tonga and facilitated by ‘football for good’ organisations, Lengo Football Academy and Football Music Culture. 

The two social enterprises teamed up with F4F Global to take a large delegation of 12 year-olds to Moscow last June to participate in the sixth edition of Football for Friendship International Social Programme.

Lengo Football Academy Director and Football for Friendship Ambassador Emanuel Saakai, is proud of the F4F Young Ambassadors and how they have embraced the F4F message of equality through football. 

“We worked hard with Shane Boyle from Football Music Culture to facilitate this event as a smaller version of what we experienced in Russia.  But this has been pushed by our F4F Young Ambassadors.  They are an incredible group of young people and we hope to bring the F4F message to more youth in the region in the years ahead.”

Supporters of football are invited to attend either day of the two day programme, grab a coffee and a snack from the BBQ and enjoy this very special weekend of football at 130 Links Avenue, Mount Maunganui.

You may also like...


There are no comments on this article.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to make a comment. Login Now