School leaders from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and F.Y.R. Macedonia attended this year's first Open Fun Football Schools leaders' seminar in the Bosnian town of Livno.
The seminar was the latest event in the numerous activities organised as part of the Danish Open Fun Football Schools project - one of the projects on UEFA's charity portfolio - that promotes co-operation and understanding between peoples in the Balkan region.
Tolerance and co-existence
UEFA has signed a three-year co-operation agreement with the project, which is part of a concept introduced by the Danish Football Association in 1993, and is aimed at nurturing tolerance, as well as peaceful co-existence and co-operation among the various population groups in south-east Europe.
Fair Play issues
"This year, we are giving special attention to Fair Play issues," said Open Fun Football Schools programme manager Anders Levinsen about the seminar in Livno, which brought together 129 school leaders. To us, Fair Play means that we care for each other, and we care for the good of the game."
Football as a gift
One of the current aims of the Open Fun Football Schools is to teach children to consider the football as a gift. "A good pass is like a gift," added Mr Levinsen. "It is something you give to your team-mate, because you want him to make good use out of it for the benefit of the team. Thus, football and football training is not just a question of what I can do in order to become better, but it is also about what I can do in order to make my team and my team-mates good.
"Our ambition is that our children should experience and learn through our fun football programme that a good pass is a crucial element in our game, and something we shall all really care about - both on and beyond the football pitch," he added.
Fun Football games
During the four-day seminar in Livno, the school leaders played in some 60 fun football games related to the above topics, and held discussions on fun football, youth football and the sport as a whole.
"For those of us from Serbia and Montenegro, it was a new experience being together again after ten or more years with people from the whole region in a Bosnian town where everyone was very kind and hospitable to us," Sanja Lucic from Open Fun Football Schools reported on her return to Belgrade.
"The Bosnia-Herzegovina Football Federation (NSBiH) will be involved in reorganising 16 Open Fun Football Schools," regional coordinator Esad Hadzijusufovic said. "We are expecting between 3,200 and 3,600 children to attend. Since 1998, this project has brought together in the Balkans more than 22,000 children and 2,000 trainers, and 15,000 balls have been given out."
At present throughout the Balkan region, Open Fun Football Schools is holding a series of other trainer seminars for approximately 800 youth trainers who have all volunteered for the programme, and who are organising 50 Open Fun Football Schools for about 12.000 children throughout August.
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