Tuesday 12 December 2023, 07:00

Football for Schools enters a new era in Hong Kong

  • Football for Schools was launched in Hong Kong between 6-8 December

  • 50 teachers, 24 schools and 500 students took part in this historic event

  • New features include an inter-school competition and provisions to encourage the inclusion of pupils with special educational needs, and more girls

The growth and global penetration of FIFA’s Football for Schools (F4S) programme is an undoubted success story. By the end of 2022, 32 FIFA Member Associations had signed up to the programme that aims to make football more accessible to children by incorporating football activities into the education system. Twelve months later, as the end of 2023 approaches, almost 110 Member Associations have joined the movement with more than 23 million young people beneficiaries of the programme.

As it approaches its third year since gestation, the programme will enter a new era. In its first two years, educators received theoretical training on the first 48 hours of the course, before putting what they have learnt into practice on the third day: traditionally ‘launch day.’ Afterwards, the teachers returned to their respective regions to implement the programme, becoming true 'Football for Schools' ambassadors.

I am delighted this event includes key new elements of the Football for Schools strategy: a greater inclusion of students with special educational needs, and the number of girls.

Fatimata Sidibe
FIFA Director of Football for Schools

"The launch of F4S in Hong Kong is the culmination of a sincere and committed effort on the part of the Hong Kong Football Association and FIFA to contribute to the education, development, and empowerment of young children across the country,” said FIFA Director of Football for Schools, Fatimata Sidibe. From now on, to ensure that the programme has an even greater impact both on and off the field, a new concept was implemented at the launch between 6-8 December.

“I am delighted to say that this F4S event includes for the first-time, key new elements of the Football for Schools concept and strategy to increase inclusivity, focusing on greater inclusion of students with special educational needs, as well as increasing the number of girls participating, and the introduction of a schools competition," continued Sidibe. "This event really lived up to our expectations thanks to the support of our colleague from the FIFA Regional Office Kuala Lumpur, Chen Jun, and FIFA Regional Technical Consultant Mike Wong. F4S Manager Niko Nhouvannasak and Alberto Giacomini made the hearts of the children in the stadium beat faster during the festival through their work, and I would particularly like to thank the Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) for their commitment too."

To prepare for this event, a Capacity Building workshop was organised on 28 and 29 October 2023 with more than 60 physical education teachers and 50 children. On launch day on 8 December, just as many teachers took part, but ten times as many young people were involved, thanks to a collaboration with the Hong Chi NGO, an organisation that helps people with intellectual disabilities.

"Football is the most popular sport in the world and it has always been our vision to promote the sport at grassroots level so that participants of all ages and backgrounds can enjoy the sport,” said HKFA President Erik Fok.

“We are delighted to be part of F4S which will make football more accessible to both boys and girls in Hong Kong by incorporating football activities into the education system. We are very grateful for FIFA’s support to make this all possible."

A tournament held at the HKF Jockey Club Hong Kong Training Centre featured twenty-four schools held in a festive atmosphere. More important than the results were the respect and solidarity on show between the children.

In its new incarnation, F4S will give all children a chance to play, whilst helping to identify talented children to move into an elite player development pathway. With an ever-increasing diversity at the heart of the program too, we can guarantee that events in 2024 will provide an even richer experience for everyone involved.

Hong Kong