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Hello, my name is Georgi Zahariev and I am a football agent and founder of the Campionia. I would like to tell you about one of my initiatives, which we managed to do together with the the “Donate a Book” foundation and the Bulgarian Football Union. I have been helping the foundation with various projects for some time. These are a group of volunteers who try to make the lives of children deprived of parental care easier and more meaningful. The name of the organization is somewhat misleading, because in fact we give away perhaps the most valuable thing for us, namely – our time. Yes – books, gifts and financial aid are always welcome, but what really makes a difference is the personal attitude and the time spent with the children. Because these are not children deprived of clothes, bananas and chocolates. These are children deprived of parental care. And there is a lot behind parental care – attention, advice, personal example, hugs, perseverance, support and much, much more. We will never be able to completely replace the family and we are not trying to. But what we can do is help with various activities, both for the children and the people who take care of them. If you want to find out more about “Donate a Book” and their “Donate Time” initiative, visit their website by clicking HERE.

In the beginning, I was part of the volunteers who travel and meet the children. I visited the orphanages in the Nadezhda (Sofia), Vratsa and Doganovo. I tried to talk to a large number of children, ask them about their dreams, about how they see themselves in 10 years and to try to give them advice. I was involved in various initiatives such as volleyball tournaments, I organized birthday parties, tried to help a girl who wanted to learn to play drums (I am an amateur drummer). I was also part of the summer program “School for Work”, during which children gain knowledge about a specific profession, which helps them get involved in life after leaving their orphanage much easier.

Over time, I changed my strategy to something that is close to me and my everyday life, namely sports. I believe that if we manage to ignite the spark of love for sports in children, it can give meaning to their lives or at least protect them from a number of temptations. I started to bring various successful people in sports and life to talk and inspire the children. As an example, I can mention Mikhail Hristov – a Paralympian who lost both his hands from an electric shock when he was 15, but still never stopped playing sports. I think that people like him can be a real inspiration for teenagers and I thank him from the bottom of my heart for participating in a number of meetings and talks. I also contacted boxing coaches, who I invited to show the kids what the gym can give them.

I saw that what I was doing was dust in the wind. The people who spend time with the children in the orphanages every day are their educators and teachers. I wondered if I could help them so that they could help the boys and girls from there even more. I saw that most of the kids love football, some of them even dream of becoming professional footballers. That is why I contacted the Bulgarian Football Union and suggested that we organize training for the physical education teachers themselves. The people from the headquarters in the football federation responded and gladly accepted the initiative. Special thanks to Boris Stankov, who was the engine of the project by the Bulgarian Football Union. In the end, nearly 10 teachers working in the orphanages spent 2 days at the National Sports Academy in Sofia. During the time they took football training classes and received football coaching certificates.

Football is much more than a game. Football helps kids make friends, encourages them to play sports, to dream. It teaches them perseverance and strong will, creates the right habits for them. Football can give meaning to someone’s life. Football can save lives. I hope that we have contributed at least a little with our initiatives…