Beto (13) and Raluca (14) are from Bucharest, Romania. They both live in poor neighbourhoods with their families. Beto has 3 brothers. They live together with their mom in a small room that has no electricity. Raluca lives with her parents, two brothers and two sisters. She babysits her siblings when her mom is at work.
Beto and Raluca are Romani and feel like many people judge them because of their heritage. They hear negative criticism about the Romani community, which hurts their feelings since they are part of this community too.
In Romania, there are 600,000 Romani, 3% of the country’s population.
Beto and Raluca both get hope from an organization called Alternative Education Club (AEC). It’s a talent program for children living in Bucharest’s ghettos. AEC empowers kids with cultural, sport and educational programs.
Beto and Raluca play football and see their future in the sport. On the field it does not matter where they come from; they feel equal with everyone else. They think football is for everyone and that it would give them a chance at a decent life. This sport makes them feel more confident and happy.
Raluca, as a girl, says that football is for everybody—boys and girls; she sees many girls playing football in her neighbourhood. She thinks that while some people live in better conditions, they may not have a better environment, which means money is not always the key to a better life.
The children look up to Leonel Messi. They share the values of the UEFA #EqualGame campaign which shows that anyone can be a good player, regardless of their religion, sexuality, ethnicity and social backgrounds.
AEC opened new opportunities for Raluca and Beto. They found friends, a great hobby and have a goal for their lives. They want to have a good career. Beto said he wants to be a good and a generous man. AEC empowers kids and helps them find their talent. Thanks to this organization children believe in themselves and are eager to learn.