Friday 17 May 2024, 11:15

FIFA Football for Schools programme expands to include special educational needs students in Thailand

  • A FIFA Football for Schools (F4S) Legacy Day was held at SAT Football Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand

  • The F4S programme is where football meets education, inspiring children to learn life skills through fun football sessions.

  • Thailand hosted the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok on 17 May

A new module of the FIFA Football for Schools (F4S) has been launched in Thailand during the F4S Legacy Day held at SAT Football Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Legacy Day was part of the Football Without Boundaries events commemorating the successful national implementation of the F4S programme, inauguration of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) headquarters – also known as the House of Thai Football – and Thailand hosting the 74th FIFA Congress.

Thailand became the ninth AFC country to embrace the F4S initiative after it launched its pilot phase in January 2023. Following the pilot phase, F4S has expanded the program to showcase child safeguarding, inclusion, anti-discrimination and equality by including special educational needs (SEN) and cerebral palsy children in Thailand.

Due to the success of the F4S implementation in Thailand over the past 12 months, the nation has become the first in the world to receive the new module. This expanded programme focusses on SEN students and capacitating SEN-specialised PE teachers.

This milestone programme is in line with FIFA’s vision to bring football to all, regardless of social background and ability, while aiming to lift grassroots activity in Thailand into a beacon of inclusivity and diversity.

The Legacy Day itself saw 200 young players getting the chance to participate in games and fun activities, improving both their football skills and those they will need for everyday life. They also met their heroes with members of the Thai national team past and present and FIFA Legends in attendance.

The 200 participants were made up of 150 school-age boys and girls, 25 cerebral palsy footballers and 25 Special Olympics athletes.

Based on the F4S curriculum and run by 40 volunteer coaches, including those specialised in the training of persons with disabilities, the participants covered a range of topics within their training sessions: dealing with conflict, how to improve with practice and reinforcing communication skills.

Prior to the Legacy Day, the F4S team and FAT trained and capacitated PE teachers and coaches in a two-day workshop at the Bangkok Thonburi University Sport Complex.

Around the session, all the children, coaches, and players signed a giant ball on the stadium track around the pitch as part of Football Without Boundaries’ ‘Leave the Legacy’ initiative. The day concluded with a skills challenge between FIFA Legends and Thai national team players.

FIFA Secretary General Mattias Grafström joined President Infantino at the event. Representatives of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), FAT, the Thai Ministry of Tourism, Special Olympics Thailand, and the Cerebral Palsy Sports Association of Thailand also took part.

Launched in 2019 by FIFA in collaboration with UNESCO, F4S is aimed at making football accessible to both boys and girls across the globe by incorporating sustainable football activities into the national curriculum.