The World football governing body FIFA, Kenya’s Ministry of Education and Football Kenya Federation (FKF) have partnered to launch a FIFA football for primary schools across the country.

 The football for school program is an initiative that runs in 211 countries across the world worth Sh14.2bilion and planned to be spread through 47 counties where 47 primary school coaches and tutors will get professional training to teach other football stakeholders in county, sub-county and ward levels for the program.

Toya Samson, a primary school teacher, teaching at a primary school for pupils with special needs in Kilifi County in Kenya has the intention to use the game to grow interest to learning on his students.

According to the teacher, who is one of the beneficiaries of the FIFA program, which was launched in Kenya on Friday, 28th July, 2023, in Kakamega County in the county’s western region which is a breeding ground to the country’s football talent, the program will help him in bringing interest to his pupils towards schooling as they seek to go to school and play football.

The program, which was officially, launched byFIFA Football for Schools Director Fatimata Sidibe at the launch and signing of Memorandum of Understanding of the program in Kakamega County said the program aims at increasing children’s participation in football and fostering the development of boys and girls in the sport at primary level.

“The pupils, who have intellectual disabilities, have little interest in coming to school. Now with this training, I will be well equipped to teach them football skills which will in turn increase their urge to coe toschool and play football and I the process, they will be in schoollearning,” Samson Said at an interview during the ongoing training.

“Our students have special needs since they are mentally handicapped and it is a challenge for us as their teachers to motivate them to attend school. Their interest to come to school is a major challenge and we need to have a motivating factor which will make them feel happy to flock to school where they will get an education, regardless of their incapacitation. This football training program is a good pathway for the children to come to school with the knowledge that they will have an opportunity to be taught good football,” He said.

“Through our instructors here, I have learnt many skills and with the Football For Schools mobile App, which has been introduced in Kenya, I will now beable to handle my pupils better and by teaching them football skills, I will be able to cultivate a football culture in them which can only be achieved at school so I will have my pupils coming to school everyday,” he continued.

The program, a joint initiative between FIFA and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), seeks to impact over 700 million children, both boys and girls, across the globe.

In conjuction with Football Kenya Federation the project will see distribution of balls to primary schools as well as equiping primary school coaches with requisite football training.

“This is a problem solver. Schools lack qualified personnel to handle the children as well as footballs and other training equipment. Through this program, we can give a chance to children to showcase their potential,” said Ministry of Education representative Eliud Wambua.

To kick start the programme 50 coaches drawn from 47 counties are undergoing training which began on Friday in Kakamega County.

Thereafter the educators will be deployed in their respective regions to conduct trainings to primary school players.

The FKF will get Sh7.1 milion for implementation of the program where the money will cater for transportation of balls, traveling logistics for the 47 trainers and accommodation adding that FIFA has so far bought 5 million balls.

Over 2000 primary schools are set to benefit from the FIFA Football For Schools program which is also backed by an App that will enhance information sharing and bridge the knowledge gap.

“The amazing thing about this program is the availability of a digital app, that can give the opportunity to teachers to teach children specific life skills,” said FIFA Football For Schools Director Fatimata Sidibé.

“Inside the app is training sessions and illustrations to help in both the football and life skill sessions. Anyone can be able to use it, a parent, teacher, etc, in their day-to-day sessions.”

In the roll-out of the program, schools participating in the program will receive footballs and training equipment, and the coach educators will go on to train primary school teachers in their region on the program, who will trickle down the knowledge gained to the primary school children.

“Youth and Women Football Development remain key in our football development agenda. Through this program, we believe that we can give kids across the country an opportunity to be handled by qualified personnel early in their football development life cycle,” said FKF CEO Barry Otieno.

Beyond the launch, schools participating in the program will receive footballs and training equipment, and the coach educators will go on to train primary school teachers in their region on the program, who will trickle down the knowledge gained to the primary school children. Furthermore, primary school teachers who are directly involved with the children shall be given priority in FKF’s coaching courses.

The initiative will in the long run give an opportunity to children to not only showcase their potential early in their football development life cycle but also ensure that they are handled by qualified personnel.

Sidibe said the program is in 211 countries globally and five countries in Africa adding that it also provides a digital hub for youths in terms of innovation and job opportunities.

“The digital hub has the internet that helps the learners to access and have job opportunities and acquire lifestyle skills,” she said.

 “We need many years to make an impact on the African child, that is why we have done our best to support the young boys and girls in football.”

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