Thursday 06 June 2019, 09:48

FIFA Legends go back to school to share life lessons

  • Youri Djorkaeff and Camille Abily attend #FootballEducates event in Lyon

  • FIFA World Cup™ winner returns to his childhood school to pass on values and life lessons

  • #FootballEducates highlights the ways the world’s most popular game can be the best school of life

FIFA World Cup™ winner Youri Djorkaeff and French women’s football legend Camille Abily visited a Lyon primary school on Tuesday, 4 June to share some of the values and life lessons they had learned through football. And to enjoy a kick-around with the kids, of course.

It was a special visit in particular for Lyon-native Djorkaeff, who was returning to his old school ­– the Ecole Charles de Foucauld – where he spent his early years as dedicated to his studies as he was to playing football.

At a school event promoting FIFA’s new #FootballEducates campaign, the pupils got to hear just how important the sport had been in the two FIFA Legends’ formative years and beyond. They fielded questions from each of the classes in CM1 and CM2, with more than 200 children listening attentively to their every word as they talked about their time in school and their illustrious sporting careers.

Asked whether he thought boys should give girls the chance to play football with them in the schoolyard, Djorkaeff told the group, “I always felt lucky that other kids included me and gave me a chance to play, but that’s how it should be. If you give someone a chance, they’ll give someone else a chance, and so on. When you give others a chance, it doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl, everyone can get better together.”

Recently retired Olympique Lyonnais Féminin playmaker Abily reflected on what a career at the top of the women’s game had taught her. “You often find that the best players, the smartest players, are the ones who know how to play with others. So it’s about sharing and solidarity with your team-mates as much as hard work. When you add fair play, then you can become a great player.”

One-time PSG and Inter Milan midfielder Djorkaeff rounded off the session with an anecdote about receiving an essay he had written aged 11 when he was 30 and a world champion with France. “From an old teacher, I got this letter that I must have written when I was in CM2 at this very school, just like you are now, and I’d said that I wanted to be a professional footballer, win the World Cup and play in New York. And there I was, a footballer, a world champion with France, and a few years later I even finished my career in New York. It shows that if you work hard and have the right attitude, you can achieve your dreams.”

After that, it was time to step out into the sunshine and onto the pitch together, where the Legends joined the kids in practice drills and mini-games. What better way to pass on the values of football?