Primary school children in Côte d’Ivoire’s commercial capital, Abidjan, swapped classrooms for football stadiums last week to participate in a FIFA initiative to make sport more accessible and contribute to education.
Côte d’Ivoire is the first country in West Africa and the fifth on the continent to join FIFA’s Football for Schools (F4S) programs , which started in 2019 with pilots in Puerto Rico and Lebanon.
The children in yellow aprons and white shirts practice passing and dribbling between the cones under the supervision of FIFA coaches.
“When they play on the football field, they move away from violence, develop leadership (skills) and connect with others,” said Fatimata Sow, director of F4S in Abidjan.
The program is implemented in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and aims to contribute to the education of nearly 700 million children through a combination of sport and education.
“Workshops combined football with education. Life, football and technical skills are taught in a single session,” said F4S coach Antonio Buenano.
According to the FIFA website, each of the participating member associations will receive a one-time donation of US$50,000 to run the programme. It is not yet clear how many member associations will participate.
Teaching materials are also distributed to schools.