What is Seychelles famous for? Comprised of one hundred and fifteen islands scattered across 1,400,000 sq km. of ocean, if you were to conduct a questionnaire, tourism and idyllic holidays would feature prominently. Football? Maybe not so much.
Mahé is the largest island, laying in the northeast of the Seychellois nation in the Somali Sea part of the Indian Ocean. It contains the capital city of Victoria, accommodates 86% of the country’s total population and is also where the member association has its headquarters, the ‘Maison Football’.
Last May, Seychelles Football Federation President Elvis Chetty, on a visit to meet FIFA President Gianni Infantino in Paris said: “FIFA is the cornerstone of the development of the Seychelles Football Federation (SFF). We are a small organization from a small country, but we are an incredibly proud nation, and we love our football. We are relying on the support of FIFA (and the Forward Programme), which is essential for our development, especially of our youth players and women’s football.”
Director of FIFA Football for School Fatimata Sidibé speaking at the launch expressed her warmest appreciation to His Excellency Prezidan Larepiblik Sesel for his presence in Seychelles. “It is a sign of commitment to the youth of Seychelles, a commitment to education, a respect for societal values and a symbol of genuine passion for sport and the beautiful game” she said.
According to the Federation’s Technical Director Mr. Oussama Haroun, the launch of F4S in Seychelles has boosted the interest of schools in football. Historically, athletics traditionally came first. The programme will help accelerate the second phase of the SFF’s grassroots strategy. Minister of Education Mr. Justin Valentin also expressed his appreciation for its introduction.
A focus on development continued between 23-25 March when 45 coach educators, including 11 women came from Mahé and two other larger islands – Praslin and La Digue – came together for the launch. Despite the hot and humid conditions, participants took to the theoretical workshop and practical on-field sessions with relish. Further motivation across the islands has been spurred by the decision of the FIFA Council in December 2022, that the FIFA Beach Football World Cup will arrive in Africa – and the Seychelles – for the first time in 2025.
The Seychelles Football Federation is now working in earnest together with the Ministry of Sport and the Ministry of Education to create a variety of initiatives and activities to inspire young boys and girls. Enthusiasm should not be challenge, judging by the 100 school children at the final Football for Schools festival.
Honorary Consul of Switzerland in Seychelles, Mr. Jean Pierre Latour, who participated in the launch, insisted on the up-scaling up of F4S in all schools, including in other islands, together with an adequate monitoring and evaluation system. Dr. Carol Tola Nalletamby, Seychelles Youth Football Ambassador meanwhile remarked how sport, especially football, helps to give young boys and girls a positive focus, and keep them away from temptations.
As Seychelles became the 53rd FIFA member association to embrace Football for Schools globally, and the second Member Association in the Indian Ocean, the words of FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura, speaking at the recent launch in Rwanda were a reminder of its goals, and potential impact.
“This programme has one ambition; through the beautiful game, to teach life skills to children. To make them more tolerant to diversity, to make them embrace the differences they see in other genders, to be more alert to the world we are living in and to protect the environment. There will also be learning; how to respect their country, how to respect their elders, how to respect the community. How to accept to lose. How to analyze failure and to bounce back and get ready for new challenges.”
The FIFA Football for Schools team next travel south-west across the African continent, to Namibia.