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Grassroots football is all football that is non-professional and non-elite. This includes, but is not limited to, children's football, schools and youth football, amateur football, football for disabled players, football for veterans and walking football. In short, grassroots football is football played by the masses at a level where participation and a love of the game are the driving forces.
Football brings benefits to society as a whole, as it is not only about the game itself, but instilling values including teamwork, social development, health, fitness and personal fulfilment. The game is a vehicle for educational, social and sporting development, and as such, UEFA invests heavily in grassroots football to ensure that everybody has the opportunity to be involved in the game, regardless of age, ability, ethnicity, race, religion or sexual identity.
Research shows that when young grassroots players have positive experiences, their lifelong participation as players, coaches, leaders, volunteers and fans is more likely. In recognition of this, UEFA’s grassroots programme encourages national associations to put philosophies in place that will help to ensure the future of the game.
Through the UEFA Grassroots Charter, a quality mark focusing on grassroots football, UEFA supports and stimulates the development of grassroots football at national level by setting standards and providing tailored assistance. In addition, each national association receives annual earmarked funding to continually develop and improve their grassroots activities.
On the promotional side, the annual UEFA Grassroots Week takes place during the European Week of Sport, and aims to encourage and inspire participation in all forms of football. The UEFA grassroots programme has donated maxi-pitches to the host cities of all of UEFA’s club competition finals since 2010, and has provided a considerable amount of grassroots football equipment to associations since the summer of 2004.
UEFA's grassroots programme recognises the importance of the grassroots game to football's well-being, and forms part of UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin's plans to "build a short-term, medium-term and long-term strategy to ensure that football remains the most popular sport in Europe for generations to come".