Friday 05 May 2023, 08:00

Football for Schools comes to Uzbekistan

  • Football for Schools programme held in Tashkent between 27-29 April

  • 40 Physical Education teachers and about 100 children took part

  • Uzbekistan the first Central Asian country to participate in the project

The Uzbekistan U-20 team will be flying the flag for the country’s youth football when they participate in this month’s FIFA U-20 World Cup™ as Asian champions. Ahead of that, the underage football scene got a further boost with the recent launch of the Football for Schools (F4S) programme in the country.

Between 27-29 April, a F4S project took place in the capital Tashkent, as Uzbekistan became the first Central Asian nation to take part. The programme, which has already been run in more than 50 countries, brings together football and education, inspiring children to learn life skills through fun football sessions.

During the first two days of the programme, educators received a training course from Alexandra Huete and Alberto Giacomini, two FIFA F4S officials. They were taught about the programme’s methodology and philosophy and how to integrate life skills into football sessions. A series of activities focusing on group dynamics were also presented through which educators came to better understand the intersection of football and social education.

Among the course participants were 40 Physical Education teachers as well as members of the Department of Youth Football at Uzbekistan’s Football Association (UFA). Also present were representatives from Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Pre-school and School Education, who were invited by the UFA.

On the third and final day, which involved sessions on the pitch, the main objective was for the educators to put into practice what they had learned during the course by taking charge of the activities. About 100 children from various local schools took part in a double day, in which they were able to play football in a safe environment while performing carefully elaborated exercises.

These three days served as a launchpad for the programme’s implementation in Uzbekistan and to publicise the fact that Football for Schools is already up and running in the country.

Alexandra Huete, a Football for Schools manager, had this to say after the event: "For some of the educators, it was the first time they had even left their regions, so their enthusiasm, motivation and attitude during the training days were priceless. They reflected the true essence of what we’re hoping to achieve with this programme: to create an impact beyond just football, something that can also be applied to children, since many of them were kicking a ball for the first time."

"This kind of positive behaviour, together with the spectacular work carried out by the UFA and the Ministry of Education, gives us confidence that they will become leaders themselves in terms of bringing Football for Schools to all the schools in the country," she added in relation to the future of football in Uzbekistan, whose 14 regions were all represented during the programme.

Sherzod Igamberdiev, Head of the UFA's International Relations Department, was also confident about the future of Uzbeki football, saying: "First of all, we want to thank FIFA for choosing us for this programme. Football is the number one sport in Uzbekistan, and we have more than 10,000 schools and more than six million students. This means that there is huge potential for the promotion and growth of football in our country. We very much appreciate this opportunity to start developing the game at youth and school level with the supervision and assistance of FIFA."