Mon, 30 Nov, -0001
Kuala Lumpur: Wednesday will mark another milestone in Asian football as member associations throughout the continent celebrate the AFC Grassroots Day.
Several member associations observed the occasion earlier while others commemorate the historic day on a later date, depending on their unique circumstances and footballing calendar.
The celebrations will take place on the day itself or over several days or even for an extended period of time.
In Pakistan, a Grassroots Football Festival will be held on 15 May itself and 70 qualified FIFA Grassroots Coaches will be mobilised by the Pakistan Football Federation to 70 centres and their teams (25 players each) to organise the festival.
In Australia, the celebration was a month-long, from 17 March to 17 April. The nationwide Grassroots Football Month was the launch of grassroots coach education and consisted of coaching courses, ‘Game Leader’ and ‘Instructor Referee’ courses to educate the football community on the Laws of the Game for Small Sided Football (FFA’s introductory grassroots format).
Most importantly, children from the age of four to 11 were provided opportunities to experience and play football in a gala day-style event or through various activities facilitated by FFA’s Member Federations.
In Bhutan, the celebration will take place in 10 districts with the involvement of all stakeholders and communities in the regions. Bhutan Football Federation’s focal persons and trained grassroots coaches will be executing the programme and it will be done as per the grassroots mandates.
In Chinese Taipei, the Chinese Taipei Football Association will combine the final tournament of the Taiwan Youth League with the celebration of the AFC Grassroots Day.
The U-10 and U-12 competitions for boys and girls in the tournament are being held from 10 to 20 May to coincide with the AFC Grassroots Day. The Taiwan Youth League, which runs twice yearly, is a two to three-month league for the U-8s, U-10s and U-12s, with a final cup tournament in May for the U-10s and U-12s.
In Guam, the Guam Football Association set a new football tradition during its ‘Jamboree Day’ on 20 April by incorporating the grassroots concept into its celebration in conjunction with the AFC Grassroots Day and Grassroots Year.
As per tradition, the youth league commenced from February through April with a 10-week schedule. During this spring league, a total of 110 teams played over 600 games.
The most important event was the 10th event in which the U-6s and U-10s had “Jamboree Day”, a special day that many parents, families, coaches and players spent all day at the Guam Football National Training Center with canopies filled with food, drinks, trophies and full smiles/laughter while the kids played two to three mini games throughout the day.
The second event to incorporate the Grassroots Day concept will take place in August when the Guam FA implements the planned FIFA Grassroots Course tentatively scheduled for 22-25 August.
In India, 20 grassroots festivals will be organised simultaneously by the All India Football Federation across the country to be conducted by grassroots leaders trained under the FIFA and AIFF grassroots programmes over the past year.
An AIFF Grassroots Course will also be held from 20 to 24 May in the state of Manipur to be managed by Manipur FA. The AIFF also aims to spread the grassroots programme to five states this year in collaboration with the respective state FAs.
They will introduce the AIFF grassroots programme in each state through the grassroots centers and a comprehensive grassroots development plan to reach every district in the state. FIFA is also supporting the AIFF with a grassroots course in Mumbai this year.
In Japan, the celebration of the AFC Grassroots Year 2013 and AFC Grassroots Day promises to be an extravaganza with the involvement of almost 5,000 children during two grassroots festivals. The Japan Football Association (JFA) will celebrate the occasions by organising the JFA Kids Soccer Festival at the Yafuoku Dome on 18 May and at the Tokyo Dome the next day.
About 2,400 boys and girls aged six or below will take part in each of the two events, where guests will introduce the AFC Grassroots Year and AFC Grassroots Day in their opening remarks. There will be photo sessions with all participants and staff in front of the AFC Grassroots Year 2103 flags during the festivals.
JFA Football Calendars bearing the AFC Grassroots Year 2013 logo will be distributed to around 150,000 people at 700 venues in other JFA festivals throughout the year to further raise awareness of the importance of grassroots football.
In the Maldives, 32 teams will take part in a Grassroots Festival to be organised by the Football Association of Maldives on 17 May. About 200 kids aged between six and 12 will take part in the six-a-side, 10-minute matches, where each team will play a minimum of three matches.
The AFC has designated this year as the AFC Grassroots Year, aptly themed ‘Let’s Play!’, and is encouraging Member Associations to organise activities to promote and emphasise that football is accessible and socially beneficial to everyone and that a strong foundation will allow players to progress to the elite level.
The AFC Grassroots Day on 15 May coincides with the International Family Day and will be celebrated throughout the week or other times suitable for the MAs.
At the continental level, a three-day AFC Grassroots Workshop will be held from Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur which offers MA grassroots representatives an opportunity to review, reflect and discuss grassroots philosophies, age appropriate coaching trends, player pathways and development activities benchmarked against international standards.
The workshop will include presentations on grassroots structure and policy, MA projects, grassroots futsal, actions to promote growth and retention, inclusion for all values, workgroup discussion forum and grassroots football recommendations for Asia.