By Dean “The sportsman” Greenaway
Football player Deshawn Richardson, 12, of Robinson O’Neal Primary School and Ryan Ramlall, 13, of the Bregado Flax Educational Center, are in Moscow, Russia, attending the Gazprom Football For Friendship camp, a FIFA supported international children’s social program that runs from June 8-15. They are accompanied by coach Richie Morton and Ramlall’s father Vaman.
While Richardson will will be playing, Ramlall is the young journalist attending the program that targets participants from 211 different countries around the world.
Using the “football for friendship principle” – athletes of different nationalities, different genders and different physical abilities will play in one team, as participants will be split into 32 teams—named after endangered animals of all the continents of the world.
Each of the 32 teams, will be trained by young coaches from different countries and more than 5,000 media from around the world will cover the program events, as well as the F4F International Children’s Press Center, consisting of young 12-13-year-old journalists from 211 countries and regions.
Ramlall, an Eight Grader, too was surprised to be selected.
“It’s such an amazing opportunity, a once in a lifetime opportunity and it means a lot,” said Ramlall. “I’m looking forward to seeing some of my favorite players play and to represent the BVI and to set the right example for other young people in my territory.”
His favorite player is Argentina’s Lionel Mesi and would like to see them win the World Cup. His favorite club is FC Barcelona.
Ramlall, who played soccer for three years on the Bregado Flax Primary School team, stopped playing when he got to high school, but spends his time on the basketball court, said he’s looking forward to his trip and helping to promote the nine values of the program which includes; tradition, peace, friendship, victory, equality, health, fairness, respect and devotion.
“I would like to set the right example for people my age,” said Ramlall who finished second in an Arbor Day Poetry contest and realized his interest in writing in the Fourth Grade. “I’m hoping to learn new ways of improving my writing skills, because a lot of famous sports journalists will be there. Being a part of such a big event and seeing how it’s done, I hope I can use that to write way better in the future. I’d like to write short stories and write a book someday and I want to become a professional writer.”
He added: “I was the first speaker on the Bregado Flax Educational Center’s debating team that won this year and I spent the last year with Raw Skillz Track Club as a shot putter.”
Like Ramlall, Richardson, a Sixth Grader who also has scored four goals in the BDO Primary Schools Football League so far this season, was surprised to be chosen.
“I never knew I’d go so far,” he said. “I’m looking forward to making the BVI proud and being a good ambassador. It’s a good opportunity for me to see a lot of people who I like in soccer.”
Richardson, whose school in North Sound was destroyed in Hurricane Irma and is now housed in what was the God’s Cornerstone School in the Valley, plays on a combination Robinson O’Neal/Bregado Flax team, as there aren’t sufficient players in his school. He plays right back and goal keeper. Richardson who has been playing since 2014, said its fun and likes dribbling and passing. Before his school was destroyed, he also played second base on his school’s softball team.
“I like football because you can travel and get to meet other people,” said Richardson who has played on the BVI’s U14 Boys team in St. Maarten where they were second and in Puerto Rico, where they finished third. “I moved from right back to play goalkeeper in the St. Maarten game. They only scored on me in the penalty shootout. I enjoyed goal keeping because after the game, people came to me and said I was the shortest goal keeper and I did good and to keep it up.”
While he doesn’t have a favorite World Cup team, he likes Real Madrid club and Cristiano Ronaldo is his favorite player.
The event culminates with the Football for Friendship World Championship on June 12. The following day, the young ambassadors will meet at the most important event of their trip, where they will discuss ways of promoting the program’s key values across the globe.