The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) strengthened its commitment to continue developing grassroots football in Asia after the conclusion of the second AFC Grassroots Conference in the Malaysian capital.
The three-day conference attracted 100 dedicated grassroots representatives from 41 Members Associations (MA) who share and support the AFC’s Vision to ensure that football remains as the most popular sport in Asia.
In his keynote address, AFC Technical Director Andy Roxburgh stressed on the importance of ‘The Serious Business of Fun Football’. “It is serious business organising and leading fun football and the aim for all grassroots development is to encourage everyone to play. Very, very few play professionally but we have to remember that all top stars were once grassroots players. Grassroots football is about mass participation – it is football for all,” said Roxburgh.
A classic format of 4 versus 4 to encourage more young children to play the sport was also discussed and demonstrated at the conference. It was well received by grassroots representatives as the format is easy to organize and promotes the game at grassroots level.
Hong Kong Football Association Limited Grassroots Football Manager Samuel Oliver Bensley said, “It is fantastic how I have so many ideas from this conference which I can implement in Hong Kong. We don’t have many pitches in Hong Kong so we have to be creative in ways to find a solution.”
“That’s why the 4 versus 4 format and its variations are great. We have used this format before and will continue to do so with the aim of getting as many players as we can on the pitch.”
The conference also provided a timely retrospective of what the Asian football family has achieved since first AFC Grassroots Conference in 2016. Participants also took the opportunity to exchange ideas, discuss issues in grassroots football and foster better relationship between the MAs.
Executive Director and Women’s Football Director of Guam Football Association Cheri J. Stewart, who is attending the conference for the second time, said, “Grassroots is the foundation which feeds into everything that we do in terms of coaches, referees and the national team. It is very important for all the MAs to come together and see that they are not alone.”
“We are here to exchange ideas and find ways on how to overcome some of the challenges we face.”
Head of Grassroots for the All India Football Federation Anju Turambekar was delighted to join the second AFC Grassroots Conference.
“I attended the first conference and this is not only a refresher course but it offers so much more than that. It is fantastic how the conference posed questions for us to think about and to work on in our grassroots projects.”
“It is great to see so many people attending this conference and we are all learning from each other, working together collectively on improving on grassroots development.”