On a beautiful spring day in the Austrian Alps, the children of SOS Children's Village Seekirchen awaited Ivanschitz's arrival with great anticipation, looking into each car that approached the children's village. Upon arrival, the Red Bull Salzburg midfielder greeted the children warmly, then accompanied Assistant Village Director Christian Wurm on a tour of the children's village. He stopped for an autograph session, signing caps and t-shirts and even one child's jeans. The event marked the kick-off to SOS Children's Villages Austria's participation in the 6 villages for 2006 campaign.
The official "FIFA for SOS Children's Villages" ambassador certificate awarding ceremony took place in the newly-renovated activity room. The room has a 70s motif, with a disco ball, track lighting and bright paint. Denis Djulic, Deputy Director of Public Relations and Corporate Social Responsibility for SOS Children's Villages Austria, presented Ivanschitz with his FIFA/SOS certificate.
Ivanschitz, who in 2004 was named the youngest captain in the history of the Austrian national team, pledged to be an accessible ambassador. "I am proud to accept this honor, and look forward to being an active ambassador for SOS Children's Villages," said Ivanschitz. "When I think of the other 'FIFA for SOS Children's Villages' ambassadors - players like Wayne Rooney and Andrei Schevshenko - I realise what a privilege it is to work with these children and this organisation."
At 22 years of age, Ivanschitz has already accomplished great things in football. His Bundesliga (First League) debut came at age 16 with Rapid Vienna, and he was named to the Austrian national team at age 19. As captain of Austria's team, he pledged to use his notoriety to support SOS Children's Villages. "I think that the needs of children should come first, and I want to use my status as a football player to spread the ideas of SOS Children's Villages and to provide a public voice for the children," said Ivanschitz.
After the ceremony, Ivanschitz accompanied the SOS children to the playground for a friendly football match.
Denis Djulic of SOS Austria was excited about having such a young, energetic and accommodating ambassador representing Austria. "Ivanschitz will make a committed ambassador because he genuinely cares about children," said Djulic. "He did not want to simply lend his name to the 6 villages for 2006 campaign and beyond. He wants to be an active and involved ambassador for many years."
SOS Children's Village Seekirchen/Salzburg is located in the picturesque Austrian lake district. It opened in 1964 and consists of 13 family houses and a Community Centre. Children attend local schools, and teenagers can live at the SOS Youth Facility in Salzburg.