Players and members of the Portugal delegation discovered a noble way of breaking the routine of training and camp in Kayseri prior to their Round of 16 tie against Ghana at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013. A social initiative promoted by FIFA involved members of the team visiting Acibadem Hospital on Monday afternoon, where they handed out presents and match tickets to children undergoing treatment.
And judging by the excitement of the players and children alike, the action is sure to benefit everyone involved. “Football is much more than what happens on the pitch,” said Humberto Coelho, a former player and vice president of the Portuguese Football Federation. “That´s why I believe we'll be leaving here as better people, in the knowledge we've given these children something to cherish. It's something that benefits both them and us, as a team.”
Captain of the Portugal U-20 side, Joao Mario paid the visit together with team-mates Bruma, Tiago Ferreira, Ricardo Esgaio and Andre Gomes, and remarked on the significance of the gesture, which brought many a broad smile to the children´s faces. “This is a worthy initiative and it was an honour to be able to give something to these boys and girls,” declared the No8. “Everyone in Kayseri has been treating us so well and it was nice to reciprocate.”
FIFA took advantage of the event to promote the FIFA U-20 World Cup by inviting children, parents and fans to watch the match between Portugal and Ghana, in addition to the subsequent quarter-final clash. FIFA’s General Coordinator for Kayseri, Argentinian Luis Castro, donated 600 tickets to Acibadem Hospital, which has been providing ambulances for the games held at the Kadir Has Stadium, and to the Ministry of Health, which will now pass them on to other children and members of government programmes. A further 600 tickets will be given away for the quarter-final games to be staged in the city.
“We´re proud to be able to help and invite these people to the games. This is an important social cause, and one which has a direct and positive impact on the people themselves,” Castro said. “We're extremely pleased with the work carried out by the Local Organising Committee and hope that the high standards witnessed at the games and in relation to the organisation of the event up to now serve as a legacy for Kayseri and Turkish football. This is also one of FIFA's priorities in tournaments such as this."