On the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, FIFA President Gianni Infantino, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay and UN World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley signed a letter of intent to strengthen the collaboration between the three organisations in support of their common goal to enhance children’s access to sport and promote important life skills.
FIFA’s new Football for Schools Programme aims to make football more accessible to both boys and girls around the world by incorporating football activities into physical education curriculums (or as an extracurricular pursuit), thereby contributing to the education, development and empowerment of children. As part of FIFA’s strategic roadmap FIFA 2.0: The Vision for the Future, the design and implementation of the programme contribute to the development of the game at the national level while placing it at the service of local communities. It will provide support through tangible actions and tools, such as the provision of education and instructional materials (including apps and an online platform) for teachers.
Through this initiative, 11 million footballs will be distributed to schools in territories of FIFA’s 211 member associations, reaching more than 700 million children, and an online platform will be created to inform teachers on how to incorporate football into education.
In particular, the programme will benefit from FIFA’s extensive track record in technical football development, UNESCO’s long-standing experience in education and sport, and the success of the WFP’s school feeding programme, which runs in more than 100 countries. School feeding helps to ensure that every child has access to education, health and nutrition by providing children with meals while in school – an important foundation for sport and physical education.
The three leaders stressed the importance of partnerships between international organisations, governments, national football associations and FIFA to enhance access to sport as well as increasing the contribution of sport – and notably football – towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
During the signing ceremony, FIFA President Gianni Infantino stated: “Following my initial meeting with UN Secretary-General António Guterres in early 2018, during which we agreed to work together on promoting positive values through football, today’s formalisation of our partnership is a key milestone and marks the starting point for a new era of cooperation between FIFA, UNESCO and the UN World Food Programme. Using the power of football to foster social change and education is our shared interest and the three organisations now joining forces are uniquely placed to bring this potential to bear.”
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay added: “UNESCO is proud to be part of this innovative partnership with FIFA and the WFP. This initiative highlights the powerful role played by sport as a pivotal tool for education. Teaching football in schools will help to disseminate sporting values such as team spirit and respect. This programme will also help to develop life skills such as self-confidence and foster equality between girls and boys. Promoting education through sport contributes to UNESCO’s mission, as the UN agency for education.”
“What a difference today will make for the future of boys and girls around the globe,” said World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley. “FIFA will tap into the WFP’s logistical expertise to bring the world’s most popular sport to more schools, helping boys and girls develop important life skills. This WFP-FIFA partnership will raise the profile of our school feeding programme, and we believe that means more well-fed students who will be ready to learn and on their way to creating brighter futures for themselves, their communities and their nations.”
Implementation of the Football for Schools Programme is envisaged to start in mid-2019 with the roll-out of pilot projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America on the basis of interest expressed by national associations and the specific local sporting and football conditions in the countries involved. A budget of USD 100 million has been allocated by FIFA to the programme, which will be implemented until 2022.