Warsaw: As Europe's top professionals limber up for Euro 2012, youngsters from children's homes across the continent are getting a shot at their own footballing glory in tournament co-host Poland.
Sixteen teams of kids will this weekend take part in their own European championship in the Polish capital Warsaw, organised by the local Hope for Euro foundation.
The spark was a Polish national tournament held in 2010. Organisers aim to set up a world championship next year.
"We want to help give the kids prospects," said Witold Plusa, vice-president of Hope for Euro.
"It's important to integrate youngsters who are in care homes into regular, everyday life," he added.
The six-a-side teams mix boys and girls of a range of ages and from different homes.
Besides making friends, the kids learn the values of fair play, said trainer Grzegorz Puchala.
"They get to grips with the idea of winning together, losing together, and respecting one another," he explained.
While the number taking part is a nod to the 16 teams due at Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, the kids' sides are not a photofit of those at the grown-up championship.
Those from the Euro nations are Poland, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, France, Holland and Russia.
The non-Euro sides are Belarus, Bosnia, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania and Macedonia, along with Slovakia which has sent two teams, Slovenia and Switzerland.
The tournament will be held at the ground of top-flight club Legia Warsaw, within sight of the capital's brand-new stadium, where Euro 2012 kicks off on June 8.
Capping the championship, a pan-European kids' team will face one from the Polish Former Players Association drafted by its head, former Poland, Legia and Celtic striker Dariusz Dziekanowski.
"We're not just a bunch of guys who meet up in the evenings to watch football and sit there criticising current players," Dziekanowski joked, noting that he and his team-mates always made time for kids from care homes.
"Stuff like this helps show that everyone has a chance," he added.
Dawid, 12, from Poland's side, was already dreaming of a bright future.
"I'd like to be a footballer, or a coach," he told AFP.