Sunday 07 January 2024, 11:00

Football for Schools shoots to top of class in 2023

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  • An impressive 71 of FIFA’s 211 member associations have successfully introduced the Football for Schools Programme this year, compared with 32 in 2022

  • The FIFA-run initiative has had a positive impact on over 31 million children

  • Building on this success, the programme will be relaunched in 2024

By the end of 2022, 32 FIFA member associations had implemented Football for Schools (F4S), a programme designed to make football more accessible to youngsters by incorporating football activities into the education system. One year on, the total number of participating nations has risen to 103. As that figure suggests, the initiative has gone mainstream.

“2023 has been an intense and challenging year of achievements for the F4S team,” said Football for Schools Director Fatimata Sidibe. “But in terms of the joy shown by children and parents – in schools and communities – who have benefited from the programme, we have well and truly accomplished our goals.”

“I’d like to thank the F4S team for their unwavering commitment, but also all our partners and colleagues within and outside FIFA, without whose contribution millions of children would not have had smiles on their faces.”

HONG KONG, CHINA - DECEMBER 08: Football for Schools Director Fatimata Sidibe talks during the Football for Schools at HK Jockey Club National Training Centre on December 8, 2023 in Hong Kong, China. (Photo by Yu Chun Christopher Wong/FIFA)

Football for Schools brings the positive values of football to the education and development of our children.

Fatimata Sidibe
Football For Schools director

Sidibe added: “With nearly half of the 211 member associations now signed up, the time has come to consolidate our achievements, strengthen the monitoring and assessment sides of the programme and adapt it to the needs of these associations.With the implementation of our new strategy, 2024 certainly looks promising.”

At the outset of this exciting new era, FIFA takes a look back at the F4S-related events of the past year.

🗓️ January-February 2023: F4S explores new frontiers

Building on the momentum generated in 2022, when F4S expanded to all six confederations, the programme continued to spread around the globe. Sandwiched in between successful launches in Asia and South America, Comoros – the first country in the Indian Ocean to implement the initiative – came on board.

🌍 Launch countries: Cambodia🇰🇭, Thailand🇹🇭, Comoros🇰🇲, Ecuador🇪🇨 💡 Did you know? FIFA Legends Wes Brown, who made 23 appearances for England, and Carlos Tenorio, who reached a half-century of caps for Ecuador, took part in the events in Thailand and Ecuador respectively. 🔢 The stat: 1,000 children right across Cambodia participated in F4S activities. “It’s the largest Football for Schools launch event that we have ever attended,” said Sidibe.

🗓️ March-April 2023: Return to the roots!

Alongside an Asian and a European nation, four African countries joined the F4S club during this two-month period. The launch in Rwanda was particularly emotive, as it was a return to where it all started: the programme was established in Kigali in 2018, at the eighth meeting of the FIFA Council. A year later, FIFA and UNESCO signed a letter of intent to roll out the project across the world.

🌍 Launch countries: Singapore🇸🇬, Rwanda🇷🇼, the Seychelles🇸🇨, Namibia🇳🇦, Guinea🇬🇳, Uzbekistan🇺🇿 💡 Did you know? When it comes to school football, Guinea sit proudly at the top of the class in Africa. At the inaugural CAF African Schools Football Championship in South Africa, the country – represented by CS Ben Sekou Sylla – clinched the boys’ crown. 🔢 The stat: 1,400,000 – The Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands spread over an area of 1,400,000km², is usually associated with tourism more than football. Despite the geographical and cultural challenges it faces, FIFA has every intention of establishing F4S throughout the Seychelles... and the world!

🗓️ May-June 2023: A worldwide reach

Six countries spread out over several regions of the world – Europe, Africa, North America, Central America and the Caribbean, and Asia – launched F4S during the months of May and June. No corner of the globe has been overlooked by the programme, the ultimate aim of which is to contribute to the education, development and empowerment of close to 700 million children across FIFA’s 211 member associations.

🌍 Launch countries: Latvia🇱🇻, Chad🇹🇩, Nicaragua🇳🇮, Madagascar 🇲🇬, Albania🇦🇱, Bhutan🇧🇹

💡 Did you know? Among the 35 Nicaraguan educators who took part in F4S training was Nora Miranda, a former international footballer turned physical education teacher.

🔢 The stat: 38 – An essential aspect of F4S is its corresponding app, which is systematically translated into the language spoken in the relevant country. The app is now available in 38 languages, including Latvian and Albanian.

🗓️ July-August 2023: World Cup flavour

Six months after being allocateda dedicated space at the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum in Doha as part of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, Football for Schools was launched in Australia, where the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ was in full swing. The F4S team then flew to Africa and the Caribbean, where no fewer than six member associations were subsequently brought into the fold.

🌍 Launch countries: Australia🇦🇺, Kenya🇰🇪, Ghana 🇬🇭, Senegal 🇸🇳, Malaysia 🇲🇾, Barbados🇧🇧, Antigua and Barbuda 🇦🇬, Grenada 🇬🇩, Turks and Caicos Islands 🇹🇨, Anguilla 🇦🇮, US Virgin Islands 🇻🇮

💡 Did you know? The Australian F4S launch was held in Darwin/Garramilla, the capital of the Northern Territory, a vast area of over 1,300,000km², but with a population of just 250,000. This region is blighted by severe problems such as marginalisation, poverty, disease and violence – all of which F4S is well equipped to tackle.

🔢 The stat: 90 – At the Barbados event, 90% of the children taking part had never played football before. “The fact that there were so many beginners made this festival quite unique,” explained Football for Schools Manager Antonio Buenaño. “It was quite a challenge, because we had to work hard to ensure that this first-ever experience was as fun as possible.”

🗓️ September-October 2023: Burundi marks 100-nation milestone

Following historic launches in Mozambique, Angola and Saudi Arabia, and the organisation of a capacity-building seminar in India one year after the project was implemented there, Football for Schools set up shop in Burundi, the 100th country to sign up to the programme. The celebratory ceremony in Buganda was attended by FIFA President Gianni Infantino, FIFA Chief of Global Football Development Arsène Wenger, FIFA Referees Committee chairman Pierluigi Collina, FIFA Regional Director for Africa Gelson Fernandes and FIFA Senior Football Advisor Youri Djorkaeff…and 100 delighted Burundian schoolchildren.

🌍 Launch countries: Mozambique🇲🇿, Angola 🇦🇴, Saudi Arabia🇸🇦, Burundi🇧🇮

💡 Did you know? Women’s football was given pride of place at the Football for Schools launch in Saudi Arabia, indicating that the F4S seminar specifically designed for women, run a few days earlier in Qatar, was a source of inspiration for the neighbouring country!

🔢 The stat: 400 children took part in the launch day in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. Never before had the programme brought together so many local youngsters for such an event.

🗓️ November-December: Brave new world

As an eventful year drew to a close, Football for Schools continued its relentless journey with stops in Africa, Oceania and Asia. The last sojourn of the year was in Hong Kong, China, where a revamped F4S, one that will be seen again in 2024, was revealed. Among the new features were provisions to encourage the inclusion of schoolchildren with special educational needs and inter-school competitions. In Hong Kong, China, 24 schools (500 pupils) competed in this inaugural tournament, played over five pitches, and from which respect, diversity and solidarity emerged as the true winners.

🌍 Launch countries: Cabo Verde🇨🇻, Ethiopia🇪🇹, the Philippines🇵🇭, Fiji🇫🇯, Laos🇱🇦, Hong Kong, China🇭🇰

💡 Did you know? FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura honoured those in attendance in Ethiopia, the Philippines and Laos with her presence. “This excellent initiative, which is already up and running all over the world, is particularly close to my heart and is an important part of FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s vision of making football truly global,” she remarked. 🔢 The stat: 31,460,911 – 49% of FIFA member associations have now, at the end of 2023, implemented F4S. Approximately 1.5 million footballs have been distributed around the world to support the process. In addition, around 3,000 educators have been trained, 31% of whom are women. Most importantly, 31,460,911 children have benefited from the Football for Schools Programme.

Football for Schools