SOS Children's Village Keila, Estonia celebrated its twelfth birthday in an unusual way - by organizing a football tournament for Estonian orphanages.
Overall, eleven teams and 66 kids competed in two different age groups during the two-day-tournament of the SOS Children's Village Cup 2007.
Although the village's team lost the final in the older age group, the children were enthusiastic about the idea of celebrating their village's birthday this way. "Our opponents were just a little bit better in every element of the game. All members of their team attend the football trainings; we have only one boy who is in training - they used all the small opportunities to score while we struggled," tells 16-year-old Erik, who was elected the best goalkeeper of the tournament.
"I really liked this year's birthday, as I prefer to be active, and I'd rather go for sports than dance in a disco, for example," Erik says. "I would like to see more teams and more kids playing next year."
14-year-old Evely, who was voted the best female footballer of the tournament, also supported Erik's idea. "It was a great birthday celebration. We were the only girls' team in the competition, so we won the girls' cup! We also won against the village's younger boys, though, so we do play well," she says, adding that she has been attending football training for half a year.
"I always go there with my sister Kalli, because we simply love football. We even played football when there was a disco in the village. We had no time for other attractions."
Football into tradition
Other attractions included trampoline and kiiking (it's a sport involving swinging, but it is thrilling for both the spectator and the swinger. The person stands on a trapeze-like swing and tries to swing in a circle around the top bar. The swing can be lengthened to make swinging over the cross bar as difficult as possible. Currently the highest swing that people have really been able to take over the cross bar, is 7m and 1cm).
Although the main event of the birthday party was unusual, it does not mean that there were not more traditional components as well. There was a cake, a disco and guests came from different places. Even SOS Children's Villages Lithuania participated in the football matches. As everyone enjoyed the football tournament, it was decided to make it a tradition.
SOS Children's Villages Estonia currently has 67 children in the village, 23 youths in two youth facilities, a family strengthening programme with 736 beneficiaries, and an SOS Hermann Gmeiner School and Kindergarten with 90 children altogether.