By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Two Virgin Gorda youths have profited from their experiences in the Gazprom Football For Friendship camp in Moscow, Russia, that ended just as the FIFA World Cup got underway.
The camp attracted participants from 211 countries around the world and coincided with the start of the FIFA World Cup and ended on June 16.
Young journalist Ryan Ramlall and footballer Deshawn Richardson, all said they enjoyed the once in a lifetime experience that was capped off by seeing the Russia vs Saudi Aribia match. It was the first time they had been in an arena with so many people.
They were all part of the 32 teams named after animals from all the continents. Rodgers, who played in three games as goal keeper, said his game has improved from the camp.
For Richardson, 12, a Robinson O’Neal Sixth Grader playing on the Humpback Whales, his highlight came when he scored the second goal off a pass during a 3-1 victory over the Cheetahs.
“The trip was fun and exciting, especially when I scored the goal for my team,” said Richardson who was playing left back. “I played in five games.”
Richardson said it was a challenge on his team since many players didn’t speak English, but, from the drills, he picked up skills that can improve his game.
“I learned how to dribble a little better now and, I learned how to do around the world,” he said. “I also learned how to kick the ball harder. I think it made me a better player because I learned things about juggling that I didn’t know.”
Ramlall, 13, a Bregado Flax Educational Center Eight Grader, said it was a ‘life changing experience’ and he learned new aspects about the world and its people and how the event could bring so many people from around the world together.
“This has benefitted me because I’ve learned to be more open minded and I hope to use the new skills I learnt from many different journalists across the globe to encourage all children in this society to be more open minded as well,” he said. “I hope to step up to individually promote these values that I learned about.”
Ramlall who saw Richardson’s goal, said it was spectacular. “It was emotional to see a BVIslander score a goal in a big tournament like that.”
He said after each game, the six young journalists in his group got together and wrote a story that was published daily.
“One of the best activities I was involved with was interviewing Gelena Topilina, Rio 2016 Olympics synchronized swimming gold medalist, during a press conference,” Ramlall noted. “I asked her for inspiring words for young females aspiring to become gold medalists. Her response was; ‘believe in your dreams, and you also have to train a lot so that your dreams can become real.’”
Along with Ramlall’s father, they attended the World Cup opener with hosts Russia in attendance and were among the 78,000 fans.
“I’ve never seen so many people in one place at the same time,” Morton said. “There were people from all over at that game—not just the countries playing—the atmosphere was just lit. I’ve never experienced anything like that. It was a good experience
Richardson said: “It was exciting, because I got to see the plays,” Richardson said. “I’ve never seen so many people, 78,011 in one place either.”
Ramlall said the opportunity was a rare and exciting one.
“Watching Russia defeat Saudi Arabia 5-0 was spectacular especially in a stadium with over 70,000 spectators,” he said, “It was loud and intensified with excitement. I will always cherish this memory because it is highly unlikely that I will be attending another match like this soon.”