"Our Trip To Russia", Football For Friendship

Written by: Thais Burgess, Young Journalist representing the Turks & Caicos Islands at Football For Frienship in Moscow, Russia, June 8-15

As I walked back onto the plane my whole life had been changed. My eyes had been opened to the true meaning and purpose of equality, peace, fairness, devotion, health, victory, traditions, honor and the most important to me; friendship. By the end of this report I hope you learn something too.

Let me start from the beginning, my name is Thais Burgess and I was chosen by my country, the Turks and Caicos Islands, to represent them as a young journalist in the international football for friendship program in Russia!

 When I heard the news I was over the moon with joy. I couldn’t believe I was chosen to represent my country. Out of the 40,000 other people that could have been chosen, I was picked. I knew it would be a great experience and I would get to learn about things, people cultures and qualities that I have never dreamt of before. I was extremely grateful and proud to be given this opportunity.

We finally landed in Russia after a 1 hour flight to Antigua, a nine hour flight to London, a 3 hour layover in London and a four hour flight to Russia. We were exhausted but the long trip was worth it. We had to wake up bright and early the next day so that we could meet our team and go to the first day of the program. On my team, the Galapagos sea lions were the countries of: Anguilla- Their journalist was named Mya and their football player was named Ajani.

Cote D’Voir - Unfortunately they were only able to send a journalist named Tiffany, but a Harrison from the English team joined us as a football player.

Cyprus- Their journalist was named Nikolas and Christos was their football player.

China PR- Their journalists name was Jun Yo and their football player was Zuo Wei.

Bangladesh- Rafat was their journalist and Rafi was their football player.

Liberia- Zeta was their journalist and Sao was their football player.

Galapagos Sea Lion, Football For Friendship Team

Galapagos Sea Lion, Football For Friendship Team

Irener Moline- TCI young player and Thais Burgess- TCI young journalist

Irener Moline- TCI young player and Thais Burgess- TCI young journalist

During the first half of the first three days, we had Nine Values school. This was my favorite part of the whole experience because we got to bond with our team mates as well as learn about the nine values. We learned about these through means of discussion and fun games.

Equality, to me, means to have mental understanding and similar opportunities no matter your race, color, size or ability. Equality can be between people and animals.  It doesn't matter what you are on the outside, you can have equality if you want.

Peace, to me, means to do simple things that people will enjoy. You smile at someone, that might change their day. Have peace with them, don't start wars or fights. Be peaceful and you can live a happy life. As a peaceful person, you won't have to worry about not having true friends, so don't compromise if it means peace won't be there.

Fairness and equality are the same thing. Equality means to get equal opportunities. Fairness is to treat people the same if they deserve it, and even if they don't deserve it. I want to be treated fairly!

You have to be devoted to something if you want to achieve your goals. Never give up. If you strive to become a football player and lose one game, you can't give up. Reach for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land amongst the stars.

You have to be healthy in order to live. Health through food, exercise and mental state is the foundation to living a fun, educational, safe and happy life.

Strive for victory. Even if you don't come first, it's fine. Devote yourself to doing your best. It's already a victory if you tried.

When you meet new friends, people and cultures, don't ever forget your old ones. Be yourself, and don't change for anyone. If someone celebrates Diwali and you celebrate Christmas, don't change your traditions just to impress them.

Honor people for their greatness. Someone that deserves to be honored stands up for his/her beliefs. They stand up for what's right. It doesn't matter how; you just to be honest, kind, compassionate and helpful.

Friendship is extremely important to me. All friendships are  different. Friendship means to have a bond with another person, but to have a good friendship you need to have understanding with each other. You both have to be treated equally by each other. Friends get us through the hard times, and make the hard times easier.

The second half of the first three days, the journalists had multiple lectures from people such as photographers. We would then have to write about one of the nine values. I enjoyed this because I was able to interact even more with the Journalists on my team and learn about them and their strengths. During this time, the football players would go to training. They would train very hard for their upcoming competition. I knew Irener, our Turks & Caicos player, and the rest of my team would do great.

On the fourth and fifth day, we went to a huge football pitch. Irener and the rest of footballers were going compete in the football competition. It was set out just like the World Cup. Galapagos Sea Lions were in group F. At the end of the competition I was extremely proud of my team, we even won a game 8-0! Unfortunately, we didn’t go through to the quarter finals, but we played very well. Irener did amazing, she made crucial passes and helped bring the team to victory. Though we didn’t win, we were still victorious because we tried our best.

On the 6th day we went to the send-off forum. This took place at the Moscow aquarium. We were able to see fish of all shapes, sizes, colors and forms. Stingrays, sharks, starfishes, and coral were also on display. After touring the aquarium, we went to the forum. This is where we experienced speeches by multiple people, including a former Spanish international goalkeeper. We also got to watch a walrus and killer whale show. The animals were so friendly. Even though I don’t believe in animal cruelty, it was an amazing show to watch. People received awards such as MVP, most goals scored and best defender. None from our team won awards, but if they did, they would definitely be deserving of it. People also received awards for journalistic efforts. Anyone who is, or has formerly done good for their country such as multiple clean ups and awareness of the nine values. One day I hope that I will be able to do something as good as those people have.

On the 7th and final day, we went to watch the opening ceremony and match of the FIFA World Cup! The stadium was gigantic, there were thousands of people, and I got to watch the game with my team. It was a completely different vibe then just watching the game on T.V. There were screams and shouts across the stadium, horns blowing, and multiple Mexican waves. It was very fun, and the game was great. I couldn’t believe Russia got so many fantastic goals.


When we went back on the plane to return home, I was a completely different person than before. I had learned that everyone is special and unique. I also learned that you have to be confident and open. Don’t be shy, just be yourself. Be open to new people and new friendships, don’t fight or argue to get what you want. Treat everybody nicely. Follow the golden rule; do onto others as you want them to do onto you. Your greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time you fall. Never give up and keep on trying. Don’t change for anyone. And, last but not least, be kind and follow your dreams.

Thais and friends visit the Red Square Kremlin in Moscow Russia

Thais and friends visit the Red Square Kremlin in Moscow Russia