Launched in 2019 by FIFA and UNESCO, the Football for Schools programme strives to make the sport more accessible to girls and boys around the world by incorporating football activities into the education system. In pursuing FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s Vision 2020-2023 to make the game truly global, the programme is already up and running in the four corners of the world.
The latest country to launch the programme is Comoros, the first nation in the Indian Ocean to take part in it and the third in the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) region.
Organised by the Comoros Football Association (FFC), the programme’s two-day launch event took place on 30-31 January. Despite the challenge involved in getting from one part of the archipelago to another, 40 coaches travelled from the country’s three main islands to attend the skills reinforcement course laid on by FIFA’s instructors.
Determination and ambition
The long-term aim is for coaches to pass on their experience and the knowledge they have acquired in their community to enable children and schools on the islands of Grande Comore, Moheli and Anjouan to make the most of the benefits the programme has to offer.
“The Comoros Football Association is fully committed to this programme, which aims to promote life skills and values through football while contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and those of the Emerging Comoros Road Map,” said FFC Secretary General Hamid Mohamed, one of the many dignitaries who attended the festivities.
Also present were acting FFC President Youssouf Idjihadi, Comoros Minister for Education Youssouf Takiddine, Comoros Minister for Sport Djaffar Salim Allaoui, the nine members of the FFC Management Committee, representatives of the three main islands in the archipelago, and the ambassadors of South Africa, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, France and Tanzania.
The most important participants of all, however, were the children who will benefit from the efforts of FIFA and the FFC in their classrooms every day. A total of 130 of them – including 50 girls – happily took part in the workshops on the pitch at the Stade Moroni, while hundreds more enjoyed the festivities in the stands, helping to create a party atmosphere and make the event an unforgettable one.
Visions come together
That atmosphere only underlines the passion for football in Comoros, which has built up over the last few years thanks to national team’s improving performances. A FIFA member since 2005, The Coelacanths have climbed steadily up the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking and made history in 2021 by qualifying for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations for the first time.
“There is huge passion for football in Comoros and the instructors who have taken part in the skills reinforcement course have shown amazing commitment and a desire to learn,” said FIFA Football for Schools Manager Antonio Buenano Sanchez. “We believe the Football for Schools programme will have an important impact on the three islands.”
“The launch of this programme has come at a good time for our association,” added FFC Secretary General Mohamed. “It rounds off and reinforces the series of initiatives rolled out by the FFC’s National Technical Directorate, through festivals and grassroots football in particular. Our association has a vision that ties in with the Football for Schools programme we’re launching today. It’s a good fit with our strategic plan and the child welfare initiatives of the two relevant ministries.”