Thursday 18 August 2022, 19:00

Football For Schools programme launches in Costa Rica amid World Cup fever

  • Costa Rica becomes the third Concacaf nation, and 13th worldwide, to adopt the FIFA programme

  • Twenty-nine educators from all over the country took part in the workshop

  • The FIFA Secretary General, programme director and two Costa Rican legends attended the official launch

The host nation of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica 2022™ has seized the moment to launch Football for Schools, the FIFA programme that uses football as a social development tool within the school curriculum of the countries that implement it. The official ceremony took place at the Estadio Municipal in Tibas on Friday 12 August. In attendance were, among others, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura, Football for Schools programme director Fatimata Sidibe and Costa Rican football legends Shirley Cruz and Paulo Wanchope.

“We started this programme three years ago, but due to the pandemic we were unable to launch it in additional countries,” said Samoura. “Now, with the help of Fatimata Sidibe, who has worked for the United Nations for over 25 years, we think the project can reach another level.” A football festival, which brought together 100 local schoolchildren, brought the curtain down on a two-day workshop run by FIFA instructors, during which they provided training to the 29 educators who will be responsible for passing on the methodology to all of Costa Rica’s regions. The event began with the signing of an agreement – witnessed by Sidibe – between the Costa Rican Football Federation, represented by its president, Rodolfo Villalobos, and the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Education, represented by the Minister of Education, Katharina Muller Castro.

“I would like to thank you, not only on behalf of our football community, but also the country, for allowing us to be part of this project,” said Villalobos. “I’ve always said that football is about more than just results and what happens out on the pitch. Today everyone – the Ministry of Education, FIFA and the Federation – has joined forces to reflect on the fact that, while we need good footballers, we also need good and healthy citizens.” According to Sidibe, it is significant that the launch coincided with the opening week of the U-20 Women’s World Cup. “The tournament slogan is ‘Vamos Juntas’ (Let’s Go Together), and it’s important that Football for Schools and the U-20 World Cup contribute to the promotion of women’s football together,” she said. “Women are the future of football.”

One of the most influential football ambassadors in Costa Rica is Shirley Cruz, who continues to compete at the highest level and who took part in the event in her role as FIFA Legend. Having racked up over 100 caps for Las Ticas, Cruz attracted a considerable amount of attention as she mingled with young, budding footballers during the festival. “This programme is very interesting because it enables us to see football from another perspective,” she remarked. “We have to teach values to kids, something that had fallen by the wayside a little: sometimes we heap too much stress on their shoulders so that they can turn professional, but football is a tool that can help them prepare to deal with life in a different way.”