MONTE CARLO: The €1m 2013 UEFA Monaco Charity Award has gone to the Johan Cruyff Foundation, to be used for promotion of the mental and physical well-being of children and young people.
The cheque for €1m is being handed over to Cruyff by UEFA president Michel Platini at the gala dinner following the Champions League group stage draw.
Platini said: “This year’s Monaco Charity Award reflects UEFA’s commitment to the promotion of social values and a healthy lifestyle through grassroots football. Our contribution will help build pitches across Europe – Cruyff Courts – to encourage children to play sports by giving them back their playgrounds.”
Cruyff said: “Both UEFA and the Cruyff Foundation believe in the benefit of grassroots football, and especially in the creation of playing opportunities where children can interact in safe environments.
“We are honoured to receive the UEFA Monaco Charity Award. This is a recognition for the work already accomplished through Cruyff Courts, predominantly in the Netherlands, for almost 20 years. We are delighted that this donation will go towards the development of additional Cruyff Courts and our community programme across Europe.”
The Cruyff Foundation projects itself as a major authority on sports for children – and especially disabled children – and related community projects.
It was set up in 1997 after Johan Cruyff befriended a young boy with Down’s syndrome. Although this boy was passionate about sport, he had until then been unable to play alongside other children through fear of rejection.
After Cruyff spent time teaching him how to play football, boosting his confidence and providing him with a safe place to play, he came home one day to find the boy playing football in the street alongside other children.
The incident had a profound effect on Cruyff, and he began to think about how to encourage children to be active and to enjoy sport.
He realised that his foundation could help children integrate in their neighbourhoods and their communities, to stay healthy and to focus on some of society’s basic values such as teamwork and respect.
There are 176 Cruyff Courts across Europe, of which 151 are in the Netherlands. Each week, over 15,000 young people participate in organised activities on these courts such as the Cruyff Courts’ 6 vs 6 football tournament and the Cruyff Foundation community programme.
Worldwide, more than 20,000 children have taken part in Cruyff Courts 6 vs 6 and almost 900 children are in the community programme.
The award will be spent on the development of six new pitches in six European countries which measure 42m x 28m, and are fitted with artificial turf.
They are located at central meeting places in neighbourhoods, ideally next to a school, community centre or youth centre, and offer at least six hours of structured activities a week.
They are locally managed and designed to be an asset to local communities. The courts are places where children are encouraged to learn about respect, responsibility and integration through sport.