FIFA’s Football For Schools Program aims to make football more accessible to millions of kids around the world, now including the Philippines.
Football in the Philippines is perhaps as big now as it has ever been. Over the last few years, the sport’s progress in the local scene has been undeniable, particularly on the international level. But football goes far beyond the confines of global competition, wins, losses, or draws, and the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) is excited to push the bounds of the sport further.
November 24, 2023, marked a historic day for Philippine football. On Friday, the PFF, together with FIFA, the Department of Education, and the Philippine Sports Commission came together in the PFF National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite, to officially launch the FIFA Football For Schools (F4S) in the Philippines.
“Today, we are celebrating the 103rd member association out of 200 to join this big family of F4S, so welcome to this big family,” FIFA Secretary General Madame Fatma Samoura shared during the launch event.
“The core idea of this program is to promote the development and empowerment of millions of children around the world. Precisely 700 million children are targeted through this program and we want to use football to inspire them, bring them joy, and promote team spirit. This program can play a very pivotal role in helping educate children, and through the F4S, FIFA has the ability to contribute to harnessing the game’s power in order to do this on a global scale,” she further explained.
Now, the Philippines is privileged to use this incredible platform to help the development of countless children across the entire country through the power of football.
More than a game
FIFA, in collaboration with UNESCO, launched the Football For Schools Program in 2019 with the ambition of contributing to the education, development, and empowerment of 700 million children. Together, they have been making football more accessible to boys and girls around the world by incorporating the sport into the education system.
In the Philippines, they have already started the work that needs to be done to push this initiative forward by training coaches, referees, and teachers and empowering them with the tools they will need to pass this on to more kids.
“Over the last couple of days, we’ve had grassroots development officers who are on the field now, teachers, and coaches, learning more about Football For Schools and how it will be implemented throughout the entire country,” PFF President Mariano Araneta shared in his welcoming remarks.
“The F4S Program is life-changing, especially for those under the program,” Araneta continued. “Through football, children acquire life skills and learn the importance of discipline, the value of teamwork, and fair play — all key ingredients to become better citizens of the country.”
With this, the Philippine Football Federation will be working closely with the Department of Education, as well as the Philippine Sports Commission in their mission to open more doors for Filipino kids to play football.
Bringing football to more schools around the country has to start somewhere, and through the F4S program, FIFA will be providing valuable resources the PFF will need to do so — a free digital application complete with learning materials, an online learning platform for program stakeholders, and adidas footballs that will be distributed to the schools.
With all this coming together, many kids will undoubtedly be able to experience the sport in a new way that not only develops more talent in the country but also helps develop well-rounded citizens.
The role of football
There may be no better way to understand the role that football plays in a person’s development than to hear the stories of football players themselves.
Captain of the Philippine Women’s National Team, Hali Long was present to welcome the F4S Program in the Philippines. “Football for kids should always be accessible so we’re very lucky to have it here in the country. That’s why we did everything we could to play the sport that we love for the country that we love for the people that we love — it’s to bring it back home, and so now that our kids, our friends’ kids, those we know and those we don’t know, all the coaches, referees, and staff can bring that and teach that to kids for free is amazing,” she shared.
Women’s National Team keeper Inna Palacios also shared what the F4S means to her, as someone who went through the Philippine grassroots programs herself. “This is such a big opportunity that when I was younger, I didn’t have,” she said. “For the kids, we just want football to be a vehicle for them to allow them to dream and my only wish for them is I hope that they allow football to teach them all these life skills that it taught us and really shaped us to who we are now…We’re not gonna be players forever, but we’re gonna be human beings forever, so the lessons we’ve learned are something we can use day in and day out.”
Football truly does go far beyond the confines of the game. It is a powerful tool that, when used the right way, can create so many opportunities for countless individuals. And now that the Football For Schools Program has officially launched in the Philippines, this is one step towards a brighter future for many Filipino kids around the country.
Images courtesy of PFF.