Monday 08 May 2023, 07:00

From promise to reality: Football for Schools launches in Latvia

  • The launch took place on 2-3 May in Latvia’s capital Riga

  • 45 physical education teachers from across the country were trained as coach-educators

  • The programme will be rolled out in 50 schools nationwide from September

The Latvian Football Association (LFF) is aiming to boost its country’s footballing development through its commitment to making football the most popular sport in Latvia for women and making the game part of the curriculum for physical education classes in schools.

In their bid to achieve the latter, the LFF has just become part of FIFA's Football for Schools (F4S) programme, which makes football more accessible to children around the world by incorporating it into each country’s education system, thus promoting life skills and valuable competencies through football.

Football For Schools launched in Latvia

In fact, the implementation of F4S was one of the key points of a meeting held a year ago in Paris between the FIFA President Gianni Infantino and his LFF counterpart Vadims Lasenko, who at the time said that Football for Schools was "a very important issue for us" and that he was beginning to develop it in conjunction with the country’s Ministry of Education and Science in preparation for its implementation. 

FIFA President Gianni Infantino Meeting with Latvian Football Federation President Vadims Ļašenko

The programme’s eagerly awaited launch took place on 2-3 May in the Latvian capital Riga with the participation of president Lasenko, government officials and FIFA representatives.

The initial phase saw 45 physical education teachers from schools across the country take part in the F4S-organised training course, with 96 students (split equally between boys and girls) helping them put their training into practice. Fourteen of the teachers were women, with several travelling three or more hours to attend – a clear indication of how keen they all were to seize this opportunity.

Now certified, these teachers are ready to implement the programme in their respective schools next year. Moreover, as coach-educators, they will also be able to transfer the knowledge gained to other teachers, thus increasing the programme’s nationwide reach in the short term.

"We’re pleased that this world-class approach to physical education classes will be integrated into Latvian schools. So special thanks to FIFA President Gianni Infantino for always delivering on his promises,” said the LFF president.

“All the necessary steps have been taken to make the very most of this programme in the first 50 or so schools, starting from September this year. The programme’s aims to contribute to the education, development and training of boys and girls through carefully crafted football exercises and equipment provided to schools.

"Our teachers are forward-thinking and respond well to new initiatives and opportunities, so we’ll see great benefits from this programme both for the overall health of our young people and for the popularity of football in Latvia. I’m confident that F4S will facilitate the learning process by integrating life skills in order to promote social change.

"Many thanks to FIFA and the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science for helping us make this initiative a reality," he added, referring to the importance of launching Football for Schools as an agent of change in his country. 

Football For Schools launched in Latvia

An essential part of the F4S programme is the use of a digital App, which in this case has been translated into Latvian and made available in the country.

Commenting on this and the experience of training the local teachers, Antonio Buenaño Sanchez, a FIFA Football for Schools Manager, said: "We’ve spent two very intense but quite productive days with physical education teachers in Riga.

"We were pleasantly surprised that all of them had downloaded the F4S App before the course and were even using it. This shows their passion for the game and enthusiasm for implementing the programme across the country. On this occasion, the festival took place at an indoor facility, further proof that F4S sessions are designed to be held anywhere, regardless of the conditions.

Football For Schools launched in Latvia

According to the LFF’s schedule, Football for Schools will start to be rolled out in Latvia in the first 50 schools from September 2023. By 2024, a further 50 schools will be integrated, and by 2025 the programme will encompass more than half the country's educational establishments.