Today in Kinshasa, FIFA, the Congo DR Football Association (FECOFA) and the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) signed an historic MoU that will see the creation of a schools football championship.
At a signing ceremony in the iconic Palais des Nations Hall, FECOFA President Constant Omari, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura and DRC Minister for Sport and Leisure Marcel Amos Mbayo Kitenge signed a MoU that outlined the terms of the schools football competition and how it will use the power of the game to improve lives and instil positive values in young people.
The event, attended by CAF President Patrice Motsepe and CAF Secretary General Veron Mosengo-Omba, builds upon meetings between FIFA President Gianni Infantino and President of the DRC and current African Union Chairperson Félix Tshisekedi earlier this year. In collaboration with the FECOFA, FIFA and the government of the DRC will organise football tournaments in schools throughout the country, which has a population of almost 90 million people, before being scaled up in several other countries in Africa with the support of CAF.
The initiative will allow FECOFA, FIFA and the government of the DRC to promote health and support social cohesion by integrating football training into the school curriculum to teach children the importance of team work, self-confidence, strategy, respecting rules, how to be a good winner and how to deal with losing.
It will also see young people being recruited and trained in referring, the provision of football facilities and infrastructures in schools and more girls and boys being physically active and strengthening their links with each other through youth competitions on a pan-African level.
Speaking at the signing of the MoU FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said: “FIFA is committed to working with the African Union and CAF to play its part in not only raising the levels of African football, but in providing opportunities through football to the many children throughout our continent who have none. We believe in the power of football as more than just a game but as a means of learning life skills and the schools football championship provides the perfect environment to put these skills into action and the perfect opportunity for Africa’s young people become inspired and empowered by the beautiful game.”
The CAF President Patrice Motespe commended both FIFA and the DRC leadership on the initiative and the unique opportunity it provides to invest in African youth through the values of football, as well as its potential to inspire African girls and boys to become better citizens.
Following the signing of the MoU, DRC’s Minister for Sport and Leisure Marcel Amos Mbayo Kitenge reinforced his government’s full commitment to supporting the project and outlined some of the measures it will put in place to make it a success including:
- Allocating a number of hours in each school week to playing football
- Putting financial, structural and operational means in place for the successful completion of the competitions and training of school supervisors
- Establishment of a local organising committee specific to the final phase of the competition
- Ensuring that the schools championship sees two women’s and two men’s teams qualify for future youth competitions on a pan-African level