The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) conducted its 2nd AFC Grassroots Panel Meeting for the term 2022–2023 virtually on Thursday to discuss new ways to attract wider participation in grassroots football in Asia.
Attended by 14 panel members from 13 Member Associations (MAs), the meeting outlined recent achievements of grassroots football on the Continent while a comprehensive plan for the future was discussed elaborately.
After a welcome address and brief introduction from the AFC Technical Director, Andy Roxburgh, the panel received an update on the AFC Grassroots Charter Memberships.
Speaking of the importance of being a member of the AFC Grassroots Charter, Roxburgh said: “We need to emphasise on increasing memberships at the Gold level.
An increase in the Gold level membership will automatically serve as an impetus for the MAs at the lower tiers to raise their standards.”
Currently, the Charter has endorsed 39 MAs – four gold members, 10 silver and 25 bronze members.
A thorough discussion also transpired which enumerated some of the priorities of the Charter such as increasing educational opportunities, utilising the opportunity to collaborate with FIFA and, to provide MAs with support and guidance.
Further, the Charter serves to recognise the AFC’s MAs grassroots programmes which remain the foundation in Asian football while also providing a guide for further growth.
Following this update, the panel received a recapitulation of the AFC Grassroots Football Day 2022 which saw an increase of participation by 68% from 2021 with 32 MAs having already commemorated the event this year.
As a gesture of encouragement following two challenging years due to the pandemic, the panel examined the inspiring case study of Australia bouncing back from one of the strictest lockdowns in the world to show a spike in the involvement of participants in grassroots football which demonstrated a remarkable 18% increase in the number of registered coaches.
“It is imperative to increase the number of Competitions in grassroots and ensure that youngsters get the opportunity to play regularly and develop a life- long passion for the sport as the overall improvement of football in a country all comes down to its grassroots programme,” said Roxburgh in his closing remark.