The FIFA Foundation Campus Programme, a brand new global initiative that gives girls and boys from under-privileged backgrounds the opportunity to play football and develop their personal and social learning in a safe environment during school breaks, was launched in Yerevan, Armenia last week.
Mobilising football as a tool for social change and to improve the lives of young people, whilst contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG), is central to the work of the FIFA Foundation. The weeklong FIFA Foundation Campus event saw that put into practice with learning for kids both on and off the pitch.
The seven-day event brought together girls and boys from orphanages, displaced families, national minorities and some with mental disabilities, to the dedicated FIFA Foundation Campus grounds for the week, based at the Football Federation of Armenia’s (FFA) Technical Centre. There FIFA Technical Experts, FFA Grassroots Coaches and Young Leaders from local communities coached them on the pitch in high-quality football sessions. Off the pitch, they took part in specially designed games and activities, led by experts from UNICEF, UNFPA, UNHCR and Armenian NGO My Forest Armenia, focused on mental health and resilience, gender equality and healthy nutrition, football as a tool for integration and climate change.
Additionally in collaboration with the Armenian Ministry of Health, basic health checks and follow-ups were provided throughout the programme while all necessary measures, including regular Covid-19 testing, were undertaken to ensure that the event was conducted in a safe environment.
Special football sessions, led by FIFA Foundation CEO Youri Djorkaeff, saw each child receive close attention and encouragement. These sessions were joined by top players from the Armenian men’s and women’s national teams, David Yurchenko, Alexander Karapetyan and Kristine Mangasaryan who inspired the one hundred children taking part by sharing football tips, tricks and personal stories, as well as how to use these skills off the pitch.
FIFA’s Director of Refereeing Massimo Busacca trained the children in a session on respect and fair play on the pitch, highlighting to his young players the importance of carrying these values with them through life.
The children also had the opportunity to visit a national forest to plant trees and gain a practical understanding of environmental protection. Following this, they spent time at an educational theme park that focuses on allowing kids to discover different professions and jobs.
The culmination of the week’s FIFA Foundation Campus Programme was a football tournament played at Armenia’s National Football Stadium in Yerevan. At the end of the competition, all of the children were presented with a diploma and gifts from Youri Djorkaeff, FFA President Armen Melikbekyan, UN Resident Coordinator Shombi Sharp and Armenian football legend Khoren Hovhannisyan. All Grassroots Coaches and Young Leaders received a diploma from Armenian National Team Coach Joaquin Caparros.
Speaking about the FIFA Foundation Campus Programme Youri Djorkaeff said: “This has been an unforgettable week not just because we launched the Campus Pilot Programme but because we saw the difference it can make. The skills and talents these kids discovered and developed this week, from our work on and off the pitch, are going to stand to them in life. They have discovered a new source of happiness and joy, football, and our next step will be to bring this programme to other needy communities of kids around the world and continue to use football as a force for good.”
UN Resident Coordinator for Armenia Shombi Sharp said: ”FIFA Foundation brings together two really important points that support the Sustainable Development Goals: one, the role of sports in achieving the goals and the other is the role of supporting the youth, our future, in providing solutions for the challenges that they face today. It was great for us to be able to partner with the FIFA Foundation and we look forward to doing it again.”
The FIFA Foundation’s vision is to deliver social change through football and to inspire humanity towards a healthier, fairer and more inclusive world. The FIFA Foundation Campus programme is committed to raising tomorrow’s champions on and off the pitch and believes that out-of-school time represents an opportunity to give children the chance to dream and fulfil their potential.
More news on the FIFA Foundation Campus Programme and participating countries will be available soon.