Mauritania, Malawi and Djibouti have been selected for a new programme in Africa which will set up inclusive football academies that will also teach youngsters how to prepare for life outside the four lines of the pitch.
The programme, run by FIFA and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and implemented by the NGO PLAY International and the Senegal-based Diambars Institute, is intended to make the most of football’s ability to teach life skills such as commitment and teamwork.
It aims to prepare academy players to be future citizens, bearing in mind that only a tiny proportion will become professional footballers, and broaden their economic and professional horizons through football, empower them and ensure their employability.
“Football can provide a lot of skills that you can take into life such as discipline, passion and commitment. We emphasise to all our member associations that they have a responsibility both to develop football and to give opportunities to kids, women and men within the country,” said Gelson Fernandes, FIFA Director Member Associations, Africa.
“This project brings all these things together – it is a beautiful project that we will finance with the AFD, and we hope we can do more in the future.”
The programme is structured around several themes which reflect the positive values FIFA aims to promote and protect – child welfare and protection, gender equality and education. It is also connected to the FIFA Talent Development Scheme, which aims to help member associations identify and develop young players, and the FIFA Guardians programme, which provides a framework to help the 211 member associations prevent any risk of harm to children in football and respond appropriately.
“With FIFA, we form a crack team to make football a vehicle for sustainable development, for youth and gender equality, for education, and child welfare,” said Rémy Rioux, Chief Executive Officer of AFD Group.
Djiboutian FA President Souleiman Hassan Waberi said his association was delighted to be participating in the programme. “We would like to thank FIFA for its support, starting with the construction of the academy through the Forward programme. This initiative with the AFD will now ensure that it is functional, so that we can train our best talent, but also provide a safer environment, offer an educational pathway and promote gender equality,” he said.
Football Association of Malawi President Walter Nyamilandu said: “The establishment of an academy is a game changer for Malawi football. This partnership with FIFA/AFD will set us apart and position us for greatness. The spin-offs of this project are huge as it will transform lives of our players socially and economically. We cannot wait for the revolution to gather momentum as we step up a gear to produce quality players with exceptional talent.”
Ahmed Yahya, President of the Mauritanian Football Association, said it was an honour and privilege to be included. “We will work hard so that our academy is a forum to train young players on the one hand, and a model for all those, on the continent or elsewhere, who want to develop their football in a scientific, polished, gradual and deliberate way, on the other hand,” he said.
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