The German Football Association (DFB) is marking UEFA Grassroots Day throughout May with celebrations centred around 1,000 mini-pitches that were built in the country before it hosted the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
The DFB board allocated €25m to construct the mini-pitches all over Germany and, from 2 to 29 May, activities will take place on the majority of them, with over 60% of the pitches already registered for the event.
The focus will be on the UEFA-supported Master Your Emotions scheme. Together with sports psychologists, the DFB has developed a programme to teach children how best to cope with their feelings, both positive and negative.
Tanja Walther-Ahrens, a psychologist working with the DFB, said: "The right handling of feelings, such as those that come with victory or defeat, plays a decisive role in the development of the personality of young footballers. To me, football is the perfect frame to teach values which are important in society in a playful way."
More than 600 activities will be overseen by the DFB on mini-pitches in 2011, a series which kicked off on 5 March in Neu-Isenburg near Frankfurt, where 1974 FIFA World Cup winner Bernd Hölzenbein and Nia Künzer, scorer of the golden goal at the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup, were present. "Football is more than learning the right technique to shoot the ball. Football is also a school of personality for kids and young players, and this Grassroots Day is an important part of that process," said Hölzenbein.
All mini-pitch venues organise and run the events, while receiving support from the schools and clubs that house the pitches. The DFB offers a planning guide and manual for the venues as well as informational material, prizes and freebies. The May activities will also promote the upcoming 2011 Women's World Cup in Germany, serving to bring the tournament closer to the youngsters involved.
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