Football may not have come home to England - but for a group of Young Journalists Euro 2020 was a tournament they will never forget.
England’s hopes of winning their first major tournament for 55 years were ended by Italy in the penalty shoot out but there were 15 Young Journalists who got to fulfil their dreams thanks to the Gazprom Football for Friendship programme.
Over the course of the Euros 144 lucky Young Journalists were given the chance to cover the tournament in their home country for the Football for Friendship: Euro 2020 News Bureau and report on the games focusing on the Nine Values of the Football for Friendship programme - which are friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions, and honour.
The Young Journalists’ work was supported by professional journalists of the leading media of the cities hosting games. The publications of Young Journalists were posted in the official accounts of the Football for Friendship programme as well as local media throughout the tournament.
For 15 of the Young Journalists aged between 12 and 14, they were based in the UK during the tournament and got the opportunity to watch and cover England as they made it to the final.
For 12-year-old Jackson Gilligan from London, he enjoyed being able to keep a close eye on Gareth Southgate’s side and write about them as they progressed through the tournament.
He said: “There were loads of really good games, but I would say the England opening game against Croatia really sticks in my memory. We were all very excited at the fact the Euros were about to start as everyone had waited so long for the competition. The team played really well, and eventually we won 1-0 against a very strong side. I felt very privileged to be a part of the F4F programme as I knew this opportunity was very unique and not everyone would have the same chance as me. I really enjoyed wearing the Young Journalist kit from Football for Friendship as it made me feel like a proper sports journalist and that gave me the confidence to approach strangers to ask for interviews. Planning my news story for the England versus Scotland game actually made me feel more excited and made the whole experience even more memorable. Even though I was quite nervous at first, I was really happy with what I had made and when I showed it to my family, they said it was excellent and that I had done a very good job. I was proud I had been able to use my new skills and it made me very happy that my family loved what I had done.”
Sasha Macmillen is 14 and has already experienced living in different countries in his life, he was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and when he was four years old his family moved from South America to Poland. And then in 2016 he and his family moved to the UK.
Sasha loved the experience of being a Young Journalist during the tournament and learned a lot during the tournament.
He said: “It was really enjoyable being able to attend a match and soak in the atmosphere, considering the sort of 18 months we’ve had before. Like a deep breath of fresh air. Having my work posted online for many people to see. I felt like a real professional. One of the things I learnt was how to interact with other people in an interview even though you don’t know them. And how to create honest and interesting content. During the educational block of Football for Friendship we also have learnt how to follow all the universal values – for example fairness, friendship, traditions etc. during our work. One of the best moments was interviewing a fan at the match between Italy and Austria with the chanting of the Italian fans in the background. It was such a great vibe that day.”
Esme Randall, who is 12 from Thames Ditton, loved being part of the Euros and F4F and learned so much about being a journalist from the experience.
She said: “The best part was the fact that England got to the final. Also, I’d watched the Women’s World Cup in 2019, and in the same way, I’ve loved watching and learning about the different styles of football each country plays. For instance, Germany trains their team in every position, not just in a specific position for each player. It was such an amazing experience! Thank you! I felt so included in everything that was going on and it was just so much fun. I really enjoyed meeting other people from all across Europe on the online F4F lessons. When we worked in mini groups I got to speak with people from different countries and learn about their life and school. I learnt how to build a story, use social media and collect resources and information efficiently and effectively. Going to the England vs Germany match was incredible! I have never been to an international match before. Journalism is definitely a job I would enjoy doing. I didn’t know much about it before Football for Friendship, and especially after the call with the Master Class of the UEFA representative, I became really excited by it.
Darcey Slater, 13 y.o. Young Journalist from Surrey, also had an amazing time being part of the Gazprom Football for Friendship Euro 2020 News Bureau.
She said: I really enjoyed watching the Euros, it gave me something to look forward to when the matches were coming up and all my friends were all talking about it. I felt very special, being a part of the F4F News Bureau.
"I have to say the final was my favourite match, as it was so tense throughout. Everyone was wondering who was going to win, the atmosphere was amazing even though we weren’t even in Wembley, and overall it was just great to watch. Plus getting to report on these matches was even more enjoyable, it made me look closer at the match, and take notes not only in my head but also on paper, so I could add them to my article. It also combined two things I enjoy - writing and football. The role was an amazing experience, it gave me the opportunity to view the tournament with the eyes of a journalist, or someone in the media. Plus, going to watch the match at Wembley was by far the best experience I could ever ask for. I am happy to be a part of the Football for Friendship community.
To find out more, go to the Gazprom Football for Friendship website.
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