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Posted at: May 29, 2017, 12:38 AM; last updated: May 29, 2017, 12:38 AM (IST)

..and she puts her best foot forward

Football can ‘enable conversations’, which could help soothe tensions between countries, this is the winning speech from Ananya Kamboj who’s all set for global Football For Friendship (F4F) social programme in Russia

Jasmine Singh

Ananya Kamboj, an eighth standard student from Vivek High School, Mohali is absolutely clear that she wants to be a journalist when she grows up, a career choice that is not going to change. Meanwhile, it is her love for football that will now be taking her to Russia. 

Ananya has been selected to represent India as a young journalist at the global Football For Friendship (F4F) social programme in Russia. Clearly, this one really loves and follows football. “Yes, I do, I watch all the matches and my favourite team is Minerva Punjab FC,” she says softly. 

The F4F programme, supported by Gazprom and FIFA, focuses on the development of children's football, fostering tolerance and respect for different cultures and nationalities among children from different countries. India joins the programme for the first time and will participate alongside 60 other countries.

Ananya was shortlisted as the F4F young journalist from India after participating in a contest conducted by F4F, supported by Mission XI Million, programme of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017. The contest saw entries from over 20 cities. Ananya's winning entry spoke of the role of football in 'enabling conversations', which could help soothe tensions and foster engagement between countries and people across the globe.

“I came to know about this from social media. I then wrote a blog on the same, mentioning the famous match between US and Iran that took place at the FIFA World Cup in 1998. I strongly believe that football can strengthen friendship between the two nations,” Ananya looks at her father, Vikram Kamboj who nods in approval. This young student leaves for Russia on June 26. Slightly nervous and extremely excited, Ananya hopes to be selected in Russia, “If I make it in Russia then I would be giving speech at the opening ceremony at Olympics and Para Olympics, including one at Modern United Nations.” As part of the three assignments that she needs to complete before heading for the programme, Ananya has already recorded the interview of Ranjit Bajaj, owner and executive director at Minerva Punjab FC, she has collected 600 friendship messages that will be added to the friendship bank in Russia and lastly, she has written a real life football friendship incident.

As she prepares for her big step, this little girl is also flooded with congratulatory messages from friends and teachers. So are the expectations really high? “Yes,” Ananya sums up the emotion in one word. After a minute’s thought, figuring she can elaborate more, she adds, “Everyone is saying keep it up and I will try to do my best,” she looks at her father again, who is definitely proud of his daughter, visibly!


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