UEFA's commitment to ensuring football's grassroots remain healthy has been emphasised by the topics under discussion at the latest meeting of the European body's grassroots panel in Nyon.
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UEFA's commitment to ensuring football's grassroots remain healthy has been emphasised by the topics under discussion at the latest meeting of the European body's grassroots panel at the House of European Football in Nyon.
Grassroots work at UEFA is undertaken in accordance with the viewpoint that if football has strong foundations, the higher levels of the game will flourish as a result. The Grassroots Football Panel is composed of experts in the field of grassroots football, and advises UEFA, UEFA member associations, clubs or third parties on grassroots matters.
UEFA Grassroots Day
At its meeting in Bucharest last May, the UEFA Executive Committee agreed that the build-up to the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League final in Madrid – the first final to be played on a Saturday – should include a celebration of grassroots football across Europe. Consequently, Wednesday 19 May 2010 will be designated as UEFA Grassroots Day. The event will not only emphasise the European body's stance on the grassroots sector of the game, but also transmit the all-important message that football is open to everyone.
The Grassroots Panel discussed the preparations and ideas for the event. These include the creation of a web campaign which would provide educational and promotional material, target schools and local clubs and, among other things, help nurture youngsters' emotional development. UEFA's 53 member associations – whose grassroots work is crucial at domestic level – will be fully involved, and star players – once grassroots players themselves, now idols of youngsters – are also being earmarked to act as ambassadors.
The further implementation of the UEFA Grassroots Charter is another of the panel's concerns. The charter, created in 2004, represents an endorsement of national associations' grassroots programmes. UEFA's work revolves around motivating, stimulating and supporting the associations in consolidating these activities. A total of 40 European associations are members of the charter; more associations are currently in the evluation process.
Signing the charter means that a national association satisfies certain minimum criteria. Associations enter with basic one-star status, and additional stars are given in relation to specific grassroots areas. These include the nurturing of 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, which would mean a national association pursues even more comprehensive grassroots policies.
Study Group Scheme
The panel also expressed satisfaction at the progress of, and positive feedback about, the UEFA Study Group Scheme. An initiative of UEFA President Michel Platini, the scheme aims to facilitate a greater exchange of technical know-how and expertise, including specific exchange on grassroots football, and is looking to raise pan-European standards through visits by association specialists – with the help of UEFA funding – to gather technical knowledge from other associations, and their clubs (click here for details). The panel acknowledged and fully supported that the host of the next UEFA Grassroots Workshop will be the Royal Netherlands Football Association. The event is planned to be held in spring 2011.