The Foundation for Children with Diabetes awarded by the UEFA Foundation.
The Foundation for Children with Diabetes has been awarded the UEFA Foundation for Children Award. The European federation honoured the Polish organisation for its fight against the exclusion of diabetic children from football. The Foundation will receive a prize of more than 50 thousand euros, which it will be able to use to achieve its primary goals.
Each year, the UEFA Foundation for Children Award is given to about 20 European non-governmental organisations that work in football, mainly for the benefit of children. This time, the Polish Football Association (PZPN) nominated the Foundation for Children with Diabetes, which proves that diabetic children can and even should play football. As a part of its activities, the Foundation also runs a project called "Sweet Poland" (Słodka Polska) i.e. football teams of diabetics in categories up to 10, 13, and 16 years old, as well as a senior team.
"We are delighted that UEFA has once again recognised our candidate. Since the beginning of the year we have had the opportunity to follow closely the Foundation's activities in the area of football. The "Sweet Poland" project is an excellent example of the fight against exclusions, in this case caused by an incurable disease. We were sure it was the perfect candidate for this award. We hope that it will contribute to even greater interest in football among diabetics," said Maciej Sawicki, General Secretary of the Polish Football Association.
"The UEFA award is really special for us. It is a kind of certificate that confirms the quality of our activities. In the near future we are planning to organise European diabetes championships and several countries have already expressed their desire to participate in the event. The information about the award will be the greatest possible incentive for more countries to follow. The financial reward, of course, is also very important to us. We have a lot of interesting ideas, and this money will really help us," says Mikolaj Illukowicz, coordinator of the project entitled "Sweet Poland".
The goal of the Foundation for Children with Diabetes is to provide comprehensive assistance to families, children, adolescents and adults with insulin-dependent diabetes. Every diabetic can take advantage of the Foundation's free offer, including support in diabetes self-management, dietetics and psychology, rehabilitation treatments or the possibility of raising funds to cover the costs of treatment.
As part of its statutory activity, the Foundation also supports and promotes physical culture and sport. Such activities include, among others, "Sweet Poland" football club that play and train under the patronage of the Polish Football Association's "Football for All" in 2021. As part of the cooperation, each of the four "Sweet Poland" teams received kits and balls from the Federation, and PZPN also helps promote football among diabetics.
"International recognition of our initiative is a huge success and honour. We would like to thank Polish Football Association for believing in our project, patronage over it and their engagement and help in promoting our activities. "Sweet Poland" is an exceptional project on a national scale, and now it has also been appreciated outside Poland. It gives us the strength to keep working and get even more involved. At this point, once again, I bow to the "father" of the project - Mikołaj Illukowicz, because without his hearth and commitment we would certainly not be where we are today," says Dagmara Staniszewska, president of the Foundation for Children with Diabetes. "The award is also a great joy, not only for us as organisers, but for the whole community of diabetics who love football. It's proof that nothing is impossible and sport is for everyone!
The UEFA Foundation for Children awards were first presented in 2017. Since then, a total of around five million euros in grants have been made to support charities and projects across Europe. In 2020, the "Hope for the World Cup" ("Nadzieja na Mundial")Association received this award - at that time UEFA recognised the organisation's commitment to improving the quality of life of children experiencing poverty and social exclusion on a daily basis.