Saturday 19 February 2022, 16:00

FIFA Secretary General joins social development sessions in Kinshasa

  • Players from school teams meet and exchange ahead of tournament

  • Participants learn about gender equity and healthy relationships

  • Fatma Samoura: “We know just how fantastic this initial phase will be.”

A social development programme involving all participant teams has kicked off the activities at the Panafrican School Championship in Kinshasa, with FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura lending her encouragement during a visit to the sessions.

In collaboration with streetfootballworld, TackleAfrica and the United Nations Agency UNWomen, teambuilding sessions were activated for both male and female players from the six participating member associations to have fun together and build trust, whilst reinforcing the importance of equal opportunity.

“The idea is to use sport as a driver for peace and social cohesion and that was our drive when we tried to assemble six teams, each one representing one of the six zonal unions of CAF said FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura. “At the heart of it, the idea is for these children to eventually become role models for their community but also for their country, as well as true development actors through this training.

“We want to allow children to use sport to embrace the values that football generally conveys. They include fighting against discrimination and social bias and ultimately championing positive masculinity. The tournament was set up in less than a year and when you look at how excited the youngsters from Morocco, Senegal, Benin, South Africa and Ethiopia were when they met up with their Congolese friends and with all these smiling faces, we know just how fantastic this pilot phase is going to be.”

The educational sessions took place with girls’ and boys’ teams together, sharing important messages of inclusion and accessibility with the participants.

“There is a lot of discrimination against women and also against minorities too,” Madame Samoura explained. “So throughout these two days where we are trying to provide children with life skills, we firstly want to allow them to accept themselves as women and as human beings, but we also want to show boys that they need to embrace equality, tolerance towards women and acceptance of diversity.

“We often take gender parity for granted, but in reality, the foundations of cultural and social values in Africa always tend to split up boys and girls socially: domestic chores are for girls and sport is for boys. So, we’re trying to correct those biases by allowing girls to practice sport.”

The FIFA Secretary General took the opportunity to thank the hosts for facilitating the tournament and its many strands of development as well as partners from the United Nations whose active support has helped the African Schools Champions Cup come to fruition. “It’s also an opportunity for us to thank his Excellency, President Félix Tshisekedi for all the effort he’s put in and the resources he has made available through the Ministry of Sports, as well as the marked and massive commitment of Minister [of Sport and Leisure], Serge Tshembo Nkonde, without whom we could never have organised this tournament in such a short time span.”