Thursday 30 November 2023, 15:45

Secretary General praises women's football development at Laos Football for Schools launch

  • Fatma Samoura kicks off the Football for Schools (F4S) initiative in the Asian nation

  • Praises FIFA Council member and Lao Football Federation (LFF) Secretary General Kanya Keomany's "tremendous work"

  • F4S aims to bring children to football through the education system

FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura has attended the kick-off ceremony of the FIFA Football for Schools (F4S) programme in Laos, and hailed the efforts of the Lao Football Federation (LFF) to bring girls and women into the game. The FIFA Football for Schools programme was launched in 2019 with the aim of giving millions of children access to the beautiful game through education, marrying the development of academic and personal skills with those needed to play in a team on the pitch.

Some 300 children and 80 physical education teachers and educators were present for the launch of the programme, 40% of them female. The country recently established a domestic league for women's clubs, and the FIFA Secretary General, who attended a women’s league match during her two-day visit, praised the focus the Lao Football Federation has had on encouraging girls and women to take up in the sport.

"I must say it is fantastic to see so many women and girls here today. I was the first female General Secretary in FIFA history when I was appointed in 2016, and giving women and girls opportunities in football - on and off the pitch - has been a cause close to my heart," said Ms Samoura, who highlighted the initiatives led by her counterpart at the LFF, Kanya Keomany, who is also Laos' first FIFA Council member. "I know the tremendous work Kanya Keomany and the whole of the federation have been doing to also do that, and now there is a women's league here in Laos and a national team, perhaps some of you girls will play in it in the future."

Ms Samoura held discussions with LFF President Viphet Sihachakr, General Secretary Keomany and H.E. Phout Simmalavong, Laos’ Minister for Education and Sports, regarding how sport can improve various aspects of Lao society, and the ways F4S and the FIFA Talent Development Scheme can increase participation and talent detection at grassroots level. The FIFA Secretary General noted how the F4S initiative has already been adopted into the Lao education system with the country's elite youth academy integrating F4S into their curriculum as the first step the most talented players will take en route to the world stage.

"There is certainly the pathway from Football for Schools to international football here in Laos with the Champi Champa Training Centre placing the programme at the heart of its curriculum," she said, adding that the free-to-download F4S digital app was an important support for those who will implement the programme on the ground. "You - especially the teachers and educators - are now the FIFA F4S ambassadors in your country, and I am convinced you will pass on to so many school children so many valuable skills, for football and for their future."