Posted: Wednesday, June 30, 2021. 6:27 pm CST.
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The Football Federation of Belize (FFB) hopes to teach football to 25,000 children in Belize’s schools within the next four years.
The FFB on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and E-Governance and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology to lay the foundation for improving the level of football in Belize through the Football for Schools project.
In an exclusive conversation with Breaking Belize News, FFB Technical Director Philip Marin said the Football for Schools program “is a four-year project that FIFA organized along with UNESCO to create a foundation for football within the primary schools and secondary schools.”
“Its aim is to contribute to education, to the development of football, and also to promote wellness, fitness, and health within the primary school setting.”
The Football for Schools project hopes to make football more accessible to boys and girls from five to 15 years of age countrywide.
“The main goal is to incorporate football activities within the physical education curriculum,” Marin said.
Football for Schools seeks to lay a solid football foundation through the introduction of quality technical development, training for coaches and officials, and Grassroots and Youth domestic leagues.
The major focus for the first three years, 5-7 years of age, is for technical development with the ball. Marin said a ball will be provided to every child participating in the program.
The next stage, from 8-11, will focus on technical development with a team environment and the final four, 12-15 will concentrate more on the tactical and physical development of the game.
Marin said the Football for Schools program hopes to impact 25,000 boys and girls and 750 teachers in 250 schools within the next four years.
The idea is to start with 100 schools, 10,000 boys and girls, and 300 teachers this year and gradually increase the numbers by 50 schools, 5,000 children, and 150 teachers every year until they reach the maximum of 25,000 children in 2024.
The FFB expects to first train the teachers so the program can kick off. The intention was to do the training from May to August to start the program in September, but because of COVID-19 they program might have to delay until January. The training, however, will start as soon as the schools apply to the Ministry of Education to become part of the program said Marin.
FIFA is providing US$50,000 to fund the program which will give each child an online tool kit, online training for teachers and coaches, and footballs and training equipment for each school involved in the project.
Under the Football for Schools program, the schools will be expected to organize internal leagues for the children to play each other as in class vs class within the three different categories. The schools should then be able to select their school teams for school tournaments.
The hope, Marin said, is that eventually we can have better national football teams.
“Under the MOU, the FFB will provide the training, equipment and materials, and coaches to organize the leagues,” Marin said. “The Ministry of Education will give us access to go into the schools. They will need to provide us with the names of the schools, the contacts, and so forth. The Ministry of Sports will provide us with the facilities and personnel as well.”
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