September sees the beginning of a joint initiative by the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and the Welsh Football Trust (WFT) that aims to use football to educate and assist unemployed people back into work in communities in the Republic of Ireland and Wales.
Project FUTSAL – meaning Football Used Towards Social Advancement and Learning – is being funded by the European Regional Development Fund and will operate in the Ireland Wales project zone which incorporates the east coast of Ireland and the west coast of Wales. It will involve the establishment of 12 football education centres, known as hubs, to be coordinated by FAI and WFT staff.
"An academic year of adult education, personal development, football coaching education and volunteer work placements will be offered to 30 participants from the local community at each hub," project manager Derek O'Neill told UEFA.com.
"The main objectives are to enhance the participant's employability and enhance their prospects of going onto further education. The hubs will be twinned and aim to use football as a carrot to entice people in long-term unemployment back into an educational environment."
The project, which starts at the hubs on 19 September, will also engage pan-disability teams attached to each location and assist in promoting the delivery of football to players with disabilities. Moreover, a research project will be undertaken on the effectiveness of football as a tool for social inclusion and learning within disadvantaged communities as well as the impact of pan-disability football on participants and their families.
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