FIFA / SOS Ambassador Krassimir Balakov made an appearance at a multi-cultural football tournament, organised by SOS Children's Villages at the Bulgarian Black Sea resort of Albena. Children participating in the event from 21-24 May 2005 were from Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia & Montenegro.
The children were thrilled when Balakov, a former national team player and hero in his native Bulgaria, showed up on the last day of the tournament. Balakov spent an entire morning with the children and awarded each team player with an honorary diploma and football kit.
"I am very happy to be here among you," said Balakov. "I hear there are great talents in the SOS Children's Villages. I hope you had a good time and that you all make good players."
Balakov also presented special awards for the tournament's best players, and was happy that the "fair play" award had been a close call because referees had not handed out a single yellow or red card throughout the entire tournament.
In visiting the tournament, Balakov, kept his promise to the childen that he met in the two Bulgarian SOS Children's Villages in Trjavna and Dren in the previous month. Bulgaria's former international midfielder has been an active FIFA/SOS Children's Villages Ambassador and an avid supporter of the organisation for many years.
Another former football great to make an appearance was Dimitar Penev, a former national team player and coach of the Bulgarian senior squad. The children listened in awe to stories on how Penev helped lead Bulgaria to the semi-finals of the 1994 World Cup. Penev presented children with footballs with the logo of Bulgarian league champions CSKA Sofia.
Under the patronage of Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg, the event was organized in the framework of the co-operation between FIFA and SOS Children's Villages. It also marked the opening event of the ten-year anniversary of the SOS Children's Village in Dren, Bulgaria. Tournament participants also included children from two Bulgarian State Homes for Children in Need.
The president of the Bulgarian Football Association, Ivan Slavkov, and the manager of the Dobrich District officially opened the tournament. The Bulgarian Ministry of Youth & Sports sponsored the lodgings and meals of all participants.
Ninety boys and girls competed in nine teams and quickly overcame language barriers to become one big and united team of friends. The title went to children from the Bulgarian State Home Isperih, while the team from the SOS Children's Village in Dren were runners-up.