Over 25 successful projects to adapt children’s football to the 2020 pandemic were presented during the Eighth International Forum, which was held on November 30 – December 3 as part of the Gazprom International Children’s Social Programme Football for Friendship.
The International Football for Friendship Forum was held for the 8th year in a row, for the first time in the online format. The Forum is a unique platform for exchanging views on the development of children’s football in various countries around the world. At the Forum, coaches, athletes, public figures, and heads of sports organisations identify the best practices for supporting children’s sports and discuss the most effective ways to promote the key values of Football for Friendship in the world. The best practices are published with open access and become the basis for the free courses of the Football for Friendship Coaches Academy.
“Football is a social game that teaches important values. These include respect, honesty, fairness and devotion to a set task”, pointed out Frank Ludolph, UEFA Head of Football Education Services, Head of the Expert Council of the 2020 International Football for Friendship Award. “The idea behind Football for Friendship is to promote innovation in online learning, emphasize the social role of football and promote local community building to inspire more children around the world”.
In 2020, projects include successful application of organising online classes using video communication services, messengers, and social media. The SLSFA Sri Lanka Schools Football Association and the Sri Lanka Ministry of Education presented an online concept of competitions and contests for children of all age groups. The Brazilian Football Confederation launched several social projects, including those aimed at training goalkeepers, providing social services, and supporting a highly active lifestyle during the pandemic-related period of self-isolation. In total, over 100 football academies and federations submitted applications to participate in the Football for Friendship Forum. Projects were presented in the following nominations:
- Changing the World: Educational Activities
- Stadium Is Where I Am: Improving Football Skills
- Earth is a Ball: Providing Football to Everyone
- Driving the Planet: Building Football Community
All the projects were evaluated by the International Expert Council, which included world experts in the field of football education: Frank Ludolph, Germany, UEFA Head of Football Education Services, Head of the Expert Council of the 2020 International Football for Friendship Award; Pablo Cesar Torres, Uruguay, President of Youth Football and Scouting at Club Atlético Peñarol, Mike Puig, Spain, CEO of the Soccer Barcelona Youth Academy; and three Football for Friendship Young Ambassadors: Ananya Kamboj, India, Mohammad Yusuf Moazzam, Pakistan, and Sheqayli Ascencion, Aruba.
For the first time in the history of the world football movement, children assessed “adult” projects on equal terms.
“All the projects followed the values of Football for Friendship. And each of them has benefited children in uncertain conditions due to the coronavirus pandemic”, noted 15-year-old football player Yusuf Moazzam, a member of the jury, Young Ambassador from Pakistan. “Judging several projects at the international level was amazing, I really enjoyed it!”
All the projects presented at the International Football for Friendship Forum are open to the public on the programme’s official website https://footballforfriendship.com/experts-forum/. Those who initiated the projects hope that the best practices will be replicated in different countries, benefiting as many children around the world as possible.
On December 9, during the live broadcast of the 2020 Football for Friendship Season final, the best projects in the four nominations will be announced and given the Football for Friendship Award.