Thursday 04 May 2023, 08:00

Gold star for Guinea with Football for Schools

  • The Football for Schools programme was launched in Guinea on 26-28 April

  • 100 children and 46 educators attended the event

  • 17th African country to take part in the programme

When it comes to schools’ football, Guinea is an ideal student and might even be said to be top of the class in Africa. Represented by CS Ben Sekou Sylla, the country won the CAF African Schools Championship, triumphing in the final in South Africa on 8 April in what Guinea hopes will be the first of many trophies. The victory will no doubt provide inspiration for a whole generation of Guinean schoolkids, and the launch of Football for Schools is set to do likewise. The programme is designed to make the sport more accessible to young people by incorporating footballing activities into the education system. It had already been implemented in 16 other countries across Africa and that became 17 at the end of April in Guinea, in the west of the continent. To mark the launch, 100 pupils – 50 girls and 50 boys – got to leave the classroom behind for a while and head out onto the pitch in Conakry on 28 April. Amid a real festival atmosphere, they kicked off this countrywide project in the presence of Ms. Mariama Diallo Sy, who is president of the Guinean Football Normalisation Committee, and representatives of the country’s ministries of pre-tertiary education and sports.

“The authorities understood that you have to go via schools to develop football in our country, and I congratulate them on that,” said Aly Badra Cisse, head of physical education and sport and coach of the CS Ben Sekou Sylla school who are African champions. “As an educator, this was something that I knew was absolutely crucial.” Forty-six of Aly’s colleagues came to the same realisation and responded to the call put out by F4S, and for three days, they took part in a theory-based seminar as well as various practical sessions. The aim was for each educator to then be able to pass on their experience and knowledge to the 51 public and private schools in Conakry that are involved in the pilot phase of the project. In the long term, it is hoped that as many children and schools as possible all around the country will be able to benefit from what the programme has to offer. “Football for Schools will give every child in Guinea – boys and girls alike – access to football, regardless of their circumstances,” said Ms Diallo Sy. “We’re proud to be able to combine education and the wonderful sport of football by expanding the base of the pyramid. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank FIFA for helping us to pass on these values to young people in Guinea,” she added.

Those in charge of the programme are focusing on the collective, making 9,000 footballs available to Football for Schools in Guinea, which will certainly be put to good use in the various training exercises and matches that the kids involved in the project can look forward to. These practical sessions will serve as a way of introducing them to the philosophy of football, while at the same time giving them social skills and core values. “The aim is to give the children the opportunity to play football. By increasing participation levels, we can also improve the chances of finding future talents to play for Guinea,” said Antonio Buenano Sanchez, who is a Football for Schools coach-educator. “This initiative is our way of giving the future stars of Guinea the chance to play football from a very early age,” added Melvin Touti Balyl Mendy, an intern with Football for Schools. “In a way, we’re sowing the seeds and maybe we’ll end up with some champions down the road.” And who knows, perhaps the programme will help us to see more of the kids from CS Ben Sekou Sylla school in a few years’ time, on an even bigger stage!