The 8th UEFA Grassroots Workshop, a three-day event, came to an end in Hamburg with a look at the next steps for the UEFA Grassroots Charter, presented by UEFA's technical director Andy Roxburgh and members of the UEFA Grassroots Panel.
Launched in 2004, the charter is an endorsement of national associations' grassroots programmes and, by the end of last year, 37 of UEFA's member associations had been approved. Signing the charter means that a national association satisfies certain basic minimum criteria. Associations enter with basic one-star status, and additional stars are given in relation to specific grassroots areas – for example, women's and girls' football, social programmes including disability football, number of participants, and the promotion of grassroots football. Up to seven stars are possible under the endorsement scheme. Scottish Football Association technical director Jim Fleeting underlined a basic element in the philosophy when he stated: "The responsibility of all associations should be to give all people the chance to participate in our sport."
Eight associations – England, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Scotland and Ukraine – have already gained the five stars. With special investment, additional training programmes, infrastructure, educational schemes and promotional activities they can now work towards a sixth. Roxburgh used England's example to illustrate a six-star application – with a new plan, extra funding, specialist staff, increased participation, futsal initiatives, educational programme, teacher courses and promotional activities all crucial features. Jeff Davis, the Football Association's national development manager, said: "The application for a sixth star gave us the opportunity to have an audit. It's so important an association has a plan – you can take that to local and national government and it gives you the chance to get more funding."
'Quality and quantity'
To acquire all seven stars, member associations have to possess six stars already and be able to demonstrate an advanced, comprehensive programme – Roxburgh used the motto 'Quality and quantity'. He explained UEFA's plans for the next steps in the star system, namely the establishment of six-star status, the introduction of seven-star status, to consider incentives, promote new memberships and publicise developments. "We have to push everybody," Roxburgh said. "The aim is for all 53 associations to have all seven stars. If the will is there, we'll do it. The aim is to raise the bar at each level."
'Reach for the stars'
The UEFA technical director emphasised the role played by UEFA – to lead the programme, assess applications, set the criteria, provide guidance, offer support, organise events and promote the project – before concluding with a reminder of some of the values of grassroots football, specifically education, health, society, and football itself. "Reach for the stars – UEFA stars," he urged his audience. "You're all stars in my book – you're working for the future of our young people and the game."
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