The festive Gazprom Football for Friendship Children's Championship, which saw budding footballers under the age of 12 from 211 countries participate, came to an end as the FIFA World Cup got underway through the opening match between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium yesterday.
It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for the kids to play in a miniature version of the world cup as well as witness the colourful opening ceremony and first match of the actual world cup since this may not have been possible for many of them had it not been for Gazprom, a Russian natural gas and oil company and FIFA partner, who took this unprecedented initiative to instil moral values among the boys and girls.
Though it has not been confirmed, the opening fixture of the World Cup had at least a single citizen from each of the 211 associated countries in attendance, creating another small piece of history for the kids.
The children will begin leaving Moscow today but they will certainly have rich memories to carry back home. For the last six days all the kids shared a single roof, different experiences and emotions, made friends with one another and also learnt about the cultures and customs of distant lands in the process.
After their four days of practice and competition ended, the boys and girls enjoyed a day out on Wednesday as they were taken to the Moskvarium oceanography and Marine Biology Center, where they got to witness wondrous new things such as different types of sharks and a live-show performed by sea lions and dolphins.
The kids were also awarded prizes in different categories such as the best goalkeeper, player with the most assists, most valuable player, a fairplay trophy and even the best child journalist as well.
However, the main attraction of the prize giving ceremony was Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who spent a few minutes with the kids afterwards.