Everyone was in for a big surprise at the National Football Academy in Lithuania’s second-largest city Kaunas on 1-3 June 2011, when MTG United for Peace’s fantastic football tournament took place. It was the second tournament of 13 being held this year and it was also held for the second consecutive year in Lithuania.
A bolt from the blue happened during the celebrity match when the TV Star Team, including singer Marijonas Mikutavičius, TV presenter Džiugas Siaurusaitis, singer Linas Zareckas, actor Andrius Bialobževskis, TV producer Rolandas Skaisgirys and basketball star Mantas Kalnietis, to mention a few, played against some of this year’s contestants from football teams representing 20 orphanages from all over Lithuania.
Little did they know that when the whistle blew for the second half of the match their opponents would suddenly explode in numbers; every single player from each and every one of the 20 teams were out on the pitch simultaneously to try and score goals against the shocked team of celebrities:
“It was an extremely interesting match!” said exhausted singer Marijonas Mikutavičius. “At one point I just felt like sitting down on the grass to catch my breath and rest. We really got a scare when we saw that we were going to have to play against what looked like the whole city of Kaunas! But we quickly decided to try and fight them all.”
TV presenter Džiugas Siaurusaitis laughed: “When they all ran onto the pitch, our only comfort was that we were taller - which enabled us to use hand signals over the children’s heads. Nevertheless, we all enjoyed it immensely”.
The three-day tournament consisted of a lot of football matches and opportunities for football fun. The skilled football players from the orphanage in Alytus ended up beating all their opponents and becoming the proud champions of the tournament – just like last year!
The three days were also packed with all sorts of fun for the participating football players. They had the chance to make new friends whilst they visited the zoo, watched animated films at the cinema and were entertained by Ronald McDonald.
News reporter Mindaugas Rainys arranged a quiz for all the children, and the Kaunas Champagne Chorus, led by Raigardas Tautkus, performed for all the players at the football stadium. Events of this kind are essential for children and something that’s really important to them, the players in the TV Star team said.
“When I was a child, we never had tournaments like this. I'm happy for the children who are participating in the tournament to get a chance to put their free time to such good use”, said singer Marijonas Mikutavičius.
TV presenter Džiugas Siaurusaitis agreed: “Children really need these kinds of events. It's great to see so many smiling faces and so many rather talented football players.” Another 11 countries are to follow suit in this year’s tournament until the finals take place in October in Oslo, Norway, where a team from each of the countries involved will participate.