Tuesday 01 March 2022, 17:00

Living Football: African School Champions Cup special edition

  • The latest episode of Living Football comes from Stade des Martyrs in Kinshasa

  • Focus on the first edition of the African School Champions Cup

  • Participants, organisers and FIFA Legends stress the importance of this competition for the development of football for all

The latest episode of FIFA’s Living Football magazine turns the spotlight on the inaugural edition of the African School Champions Cup held in Kinshasa, DR Congo.

Among those in attendance at the event was former Cameroon international and FIFA Legend Geremi Njitap. An undisputed icon of the Indomitable Lions, he noted the importance of this tournament for the budding players taking part. "I had the good fortune to play top-level football, but there’s always a starting point. For young people their age, this kind of event provides unforgettable moments," he says, speaking from personal experience. "Football is cultivated from a young age, from childhood. At that age, you’re not yet predisposed to becoming a professional footballer – you just play to have fun. But as you progress more and more, the idea crystallises."

Khalilou Fadiga and Shabani Nonda, two other former stars of African football, also attended the festivities and were just as convinced about the importance of this first taste of international football for the schoolchildren.

With her heavy involvement in the development of football in her role as Secretary General of the French Football Federation (FFF), Laura Georges particularly appreciated the impact the project would have on women's football. "During this tournament, the intervention of UN Women made it possible to talk about discrimination to the girls, but also to the boys to ask them to have consideration for their mothers, their sisters and for all women players," said the former France international and current FIFA Legend.

“Competitions like these are always moments where we educate young people; you don't just come hoping to unearth talent. These are opportunities to get a message across – it's very important. My message is also for parents. Often we see young girls who can't play because their parents don't believe in them. They think girls should stay at home. I say: ‘Let your daughters play, let them believe in themselves and dream’.”

From the perspective of the national associations, Kenny Jean-Marie is ideally placed to talk about the event’s importance in his position as FIFA Chief Member Associations Officer. "For us, it's a key competition. FIFA’s mission is to make football truly global, and we cannot make it global if we don’t give every child from every home the chance to play football. That's where the idea of a school championship was born," he explains.

"In the short, medium and long term, the goal of a competition like this is to develop football everywhere and for everyone. All the stepping stones we lay will contribute to the development of football, be it at grassroots or elite level," he concludes.