While the UEFA Champions Festival site at London's Hyde Park was the main focus for UEFA Grassroots Day on Wednesday, activities took place all over Europe in UEFA's member association countries from Albania to Wales.
A week of events began last Saturday with the Scottish Football Association (SFA) hosting a come-and-try day before the Scottish Cup final between Celtic FC and Motherwell FC. In the shadow of Hampden Park, at Lesser Hampden, children were given a chance to test their skills at various fun stations, while youngsters from Motherwell, Celtic and Queen's Park FC participated in four-a-side, seven-a-side and 11-a-side games.
Former Scottish international John Collins, meanwhile, was at the UEFA Champions Festival in London on Wednesday as an adidas grassroots football ambassador and he was keen to stress how important this week is as a promotional tool for grassroots football Europe-wide.
"UEFA has been working ever so well for so long," he told UEFA.com. "I can't emphasise enough the importance of grassroots football and the importance of Europe being as one. Getting kids playing football ticks so many boxes – friendship, skill, balance, coordination, teamwork – and it's so good for you. UEFA has been doing so well throughout Europe and Grassroots Day is the culmination of a year's work."
The staging of UEFA Grassroots Day three days before the UEFA Champions League final symbolised the link between elite and grassroots football. It was also the occasion for mini-tournaments and Open Fun Football Schools (OFFS) activities in Ukraine; fun football and street football for marginal groups in Slovenia; a girls football day in Liechtenstein; and ball skills competitions in Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, in Estonia activities for youngsters were the prelude to an exhibition game between Estonia and a Basque Country XI in Tallinn.
"The most important thing for UEFA is to be seen to be supporting grassroots football and to promote it as well by putting up football pitches all over Europe," said UEFA grassroots ambassador Lucas Radebe, who was involved in a skills clinic with girls at the UEFA Champions Festival. "The future because of UEFA is great. It's massive and we want to keep it that way."
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