Tuesday 20 September 2022, 08:00

Football For Schools project kicks off in France

  • Football For Schools project launched in France on Monday 19 September

  • Second UEFA member association to adopt the programme

  • Some 17 countries have now joined the movement, with more set to follow

For some youngsters in France at least, returning to school on Monday morning was a little more exciting than usual. Year 9 students at Les Grands Champs school in Poissy, in Paris’ western suburbs, had a fun afternoon to look forward to, with football galore on the programme. And the reason? They were taking part in the official launch of the Football for Schools (F4S) project in France.

The initiative follows the signing of an agreement back on 8 April by FIFA, the French Football Federation (FFF) and the French Ministry of National Education, Youth Affairs and Sport, who came together to consolidate football’s place at French schools, as part of the Football for Schools programme. Run by FIFA with the collaboration of UNESCO, Football for Schools aims to contribute to the empowerment of millions of children and youngsters throughout the world by incorporating football into the educational system.

“Football For Schools is a programme based on an educational tool: an app that can be downloaded on any smartphone and by anyone,” said project leader Alexandre Gros. “We worked from the idea that football is fun and that it project values and messages that are important for life and which everyone should have the opportunity to learn.”

“F4S brings the positive values of football into the education and development of our children by encouraging positive attitudes and enthusiasm,” said Football For Schools Programme Director Fatimata Sidibe, who joined FIFA after 25 years at the United Nations. “It challenges children in a fun and enjoyable way and empowers them to make their own decisions and take responsibility in a welcoming and supportive environment.” “The programme embodies FIFA’s vision and that of President Gianni Infantino and Secretary General Fatma Samoura to make football truly global,” added Sidibe. “Our wish is for every child in the world, through the 211 member associations, to be able to play football and to do so by learning and acquiring life skills.”

The hundred or so Year 9 students at Les Grands Champs School helped put all that theory into practice on Monday afternoon, and had a lot of fun doing so, as 14-year-old Romine explained: “I really love football. I watch a lot on TV but I don’t play much, so this is a great opportunity for us. I was a bit surprised when they put us in with the boys but it’s a great idea. It brings us closer together. And there’s no gender in this sport: football is as much for girls as it is for boys.”

“It’s great that the teams are mixed,” said classmate Ilyes. “Girls are together with boys and no one’s making a point about it on the pitch. It’s really positive. Everyone’s so excited about taking part in this event. There’s a great atmosphere and we’re really sharing in the moment. And obviously it’s a bit more fun to go to football training than a physics or chemistry lesson.” Though chemistry might be off the syllabus at Football For Schools, there is definitely a place for some alchemy.