UEFA and the Football Federation of Belarus (BFF) are to work together in a joint project designed to foster the country’s grassroots football and increase participation.
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UEFA and the Football Federation of Belarus (BFF) have launched a joint project aimed at developing the country’s grassroots football activities and increasing participation.
The one-year project, which involves nine clubs, is serving as a pilot scheme for a club development project which UEFA hopes will inspire other countries in Eastern Europe.
The clubs from four regions in Belarus will be helped in developing grassroots football through education and training, to increase the number of children playing football and further develop the environment for football players.
An agreement launching the project was signed at a ceremony in the Belarus capital Minsk this week, involving representatives of UEFA, the Belarus national association and the country’s sports ministry, as well as Belarus grassroots ambassador Alexander Hleb.
Belarus has been selected for the pilot project in view of the next UEFA Grassroots Conference, which will take place in Minsk next summer.
UEFA’s grassroots football mission is founded on the essential belief that football is for everyone everywhere. The European body is committed to protecting football’s future and delivering the various benefits that football brings to society as a whole.
In addition, given that the strength of football lies in its grassroots, UEFA believes in the importance of preserving football’s local, regional and national identities.
The project in Belarus will look to improve the quantity and quality of grassroots football, and UEFA has pledged constant support over the year. Two UEFA grassroots consultants, Piet Hubers and Jamie Houchen, have laid the advance foundations for the cooperation by assessing potential participating clubs and helping the FA to set up the infrastructures needed for the project to flourish.
The BFF is establishing a project menu which includes, among others, specialist children’s grassroots coach education, and an education programme for staff and volunteers at clubs. In addition, the association will strive to further develop its relationships with clubs in the grassroots sector.
Certain targets have been set by UEFA and the BFF as part of the project. These include the setting up of grassroots leagues, developing club management, and helping clubs in offering education and pathways for players and coaches.
The clubs themselves will be given specific targets – attracting boys and girls to play football and retaining them, establishing grassroots coaching activities and running social and schools programmes.
The results will be showcased at the UEFA Grassroots Conference in Minsk, and best practice examples will be highlighted that could be ideally replicated in several other East European countries.
An evaluation will be made next year after the conclusion of the pilot programme, and further cooperation will be agreed in consultation with the Belarus ministry of sport and tourism, with a view to supporting and developing the continued improvement and development of grassroots football and education in Belarus.
“Strong clubs are a key to the successful development of football in the country,” said BFF general secretary Yury Verheichyk. “It is very important to pay attention and help to develop not only professional clubs, but also youth and grassroots clubs.”
“BFF is happy to become a participant in the joint pilot project on club development. We are grateful to UEFA for the assistance provided in terms of preparation and implementation of the pilot project in particular, as well as for the great support in the development of grassroots and youth football in Belarus in general.”
Thanks to the joint work,” he added, “we have already made some progress in the development of grassroots football in Belarus. I am sure that the clubs that have become participants in the pilot project will make a step forward in their development, and the experience gained in the implementation of the pilot project will help us to organise this project on an ongoing basis, so that every year, we can increase the number of clubs that we will assist and support.”
“The further development of club structures is an important element of UEFA’s overall grassroots vision, especially in the East European countries,” said UEFA’s football education head Frank Ludolph. “Club football can be so multi-faceted, and this aspect must be encouraged.”
“In particular, work between clubs and schools must be stepped up. The associations must also take the initiative and seek cooperation with state bodies, regional associations and local clubs. Investment in this sector can only bear fruit through such co-operation.”
“This club development project in Belarus will point the way ahead and serve as an example for other national associations.”