Meet Turkey’s superstar amputee footballer

Barış Telli lost his leg chasing a football onto a road as a young boy. Now he’s gaining respect in his native Turkey and beyond as one of the world’s finest amputee footballers. This is his incredible story.

Manuel Neuer : “I always just wanted a ball”

I started playing football straight away as a child. I was always playing with a ball at home, whether it was with my brother in the living room or outside in the garden. We even broke one or two beds, ruined the flowers and broke a vase in the living room. There was certainly a bit of bother, but generally it was always nice that we were able to play, and fun was the most important thing.

I always just wanted a ball so that I could play with my brother.

Eunate Arraiza: Never stop fighting!

Autism & Down Syndrome no barrier to football

This is the story of Andreas Jakobsen (17) and Oliver Svangren (16), who live with autism and Down Syndrome respectively and work at the Danish club Randers FC. As participants of the club’s ‘Mini Trainee’ programme – they are part of a project which offers young people with learning disabilities an internship within the club’s facilities, working in various roles and mixing with the club’s players.

What is Equal Game?

  • European football is more diverse and multi-cultural than ever.
  • Our competitions and grassroots projects feature players and fans from all backgrounds.
  • And for UEFA it is important to communicate that football is for all.
  • Respect is a social responsibility initiative launched in 2008.
  • For the last 4 years, this initiative has featured the message of No To Racism.
  • UEFA is now evolving this message to promote inclusion, diversity and accessibility across not only ethnicity but also gender, age, sexual orientation, all abilities, and social backgrounds.
  • The new campaign gives all football lovers in Europe a voice to share what football means to them.
  • The new respect campaign is called #EqualGame
  • Because everyone is entitled to enjoy football. No matter who you are, where you’re from or how you play.
  • On the pitch we’re all the same.

My Game

Andriy Shevchenko (coach, Ukraine): Football is an international game; it’s accessible to all. It has nothing to do with politics or religion. It’s a game that’s accessible to all and it should be pure, not only in the top competitions but also among children. It’s competitive to a certain extent, but it’s a game. It should be accessible to all. Everyone should try to get pleasure from it, because that’s the reason we play this sport.

Luka Modrić (footballer, Croatia): I remember that, after school, the first thing I did was to go outside to play football with my friends, with my father. Being happy with the ball around, with trying to go every day and learn something new, and just being happy and enjoying playing football every day.

Jürgen Klopp (coach, Germany): You don’t even have to be smart to understand that we are all the same, the game shows you that immediately. You sit in the same dressing room, you go out on the pitch, you play together and if you don’t pass to your mate from the same city, it makes no sense. If you don’t pass to your mate from another country, it makes no sense. The game doesn’t work like that; it only works if you really play together, and that’s how football should be and how the world should be as well, but sometimes, the world especially, can still improve.

Paul Pogba (footballer, France): We try to be a role model for everyone. We also have to convey the message that everyone can do a sport like football. It makes people happy. When we became world champions, we were all together. Every race came together, we hugged and kissed each other. It was wonderful and that’s what football can give to people all around the world. Sport can bring people together and that’s the purpose of this campaign, to make people aware that football is for everyone. It’s not for a single person, it’s not for a single skin colour. It’s for everyone.

Ada Hegerberg (footballer, Norway): I think what I love the most about football is that it’s for everyone. It’s as simple as that. It’s so simple to have a ball and go out and play with your friends, whether you’re a boy or a girl, young or old. It’s so global and it’s easily accessible for everyone. Everyone can dream and have big dreams of becoming a football player, so that’s the beautiful part of it and that’s what I try to keep in mind as well: That I’m really privileged to be in the position that I am, I’ve worked hard for it, of course, but try to enjoy it as much as possible as well. There are hundreds of thousands of others that wish they were in our position.

Dimitri Payet (footballer, France): I was with my parents when I saw on the television that I’d been picked for France for the first time, and my parents were nearly in tears. These are moments that happen very rarely in your life, but football creates these sorts of moments, you can forget everything else. For me, footballers aren’t the stereotypes that we have, they’re human beings and they share these special moments with the people closest to them.

Raheem Sterling (footballer, England): Everyone should have the opportunity to play football if they love it. They should have the right facilities. Not everyone comes from a great background, not everyone has lavish things. Some people have to build their way up. I love the way they’re building loads of facilities for young kids now to be able to showcase their talent, their ability, so in the future, they can really have a chance at playing at the high level.

Eniola Aluko (footballer, England): For me, football is a gift. I grew up playing football not really knowing how I was good or why I was good at football. In my local area, there were a lot of boys, so for me, football was my quickest way of being accepted. Playing the game was to be accepted amongst boys, and then I quickly became the girl that was better than the boys. So, it became an identity for me, playing football, being cool because I could play, and the boys thought I was cool because I could play. So, from a young age, even though I’m different from the boys, or different in terms of my background, it’s something that actually became acceptance.

Diego Simeone (manager, Argentina): The culture, the ability to adapt yourself, to integrate within that new society you live in. [You also need] to learn, to listen, to watch… And, above all, [you need] to be yourself. It doesn’t matter which country you come from, it’s becoming more and more extraordinary to meet normal people nowadays. And I consider myself a normal guy.

Aron Winter (coach, Netherlands): I think that discrimination needs to disappear. It shouldn’t be there. We are all the same and everyone needs to be appreciated and respected no matter what he or she looks like, or sexual orientation. Regardless of level or rank, I showed it with my feet, I let my feet to do the talking.

And many more…

Everyone can play

Lewandowski And Co support Amputee Football

The Polish FA and stars of the national team gave a huge boost to amputee football in their country by taking part in a special penalty shootout challenge.

Special training for special kids with Lithuanian champions FK Suduva

Discover the world on a football pitch

#EqualGame in Russia

The Russian national team welcomed ten children to their training session as part of a therapeutic sport programme.

Blind children take centre stage in Tallinn

At the 2018 Super Cup in Tallinn, The UEFA Foundation for Children invited local blind children to sing as part of the opening ceremony, and invited them to meet players from Real Madrid and Atletico de Madrid.

The world on the pitch

Nearly 300 orphans participated in an event organised by Lithuanian Football Federation (LFF). The aim of this event was to use football as a tool and to learn to solve social problems, and proved to be the perfect method to involve the orphans into an active lifestyle.

And many more…