MoU inked for historic FIFA Football for Schools programme in Guyana

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Football’s world governing body FIFA, the Guyana Football Federation (GFF), the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport have inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the historic Football for Schools Programme.

The signing was done on Wednesday at GFF’s National Training Facility, Providence, by key personnel of the aforementioned institutions.

It signified Guyana becoming the first nation within the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) to launch the programme, which will be mapped out countrywide to cater for both genders.

Football for Schools (F4S) is a programme launched by FIFA in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and caters for pupils aged four to 14.

The programme is expected to catapult football development in Guyana (Photo: Ministry of Education)

Education Minister, Priya Manickchand applauded the fact that the programme will not be limited just to the schools on the coast, but throughout all of the 10 administrative regions.

This is embodied in the training of 51 teachers, who were selected from all 10 regions to be Master Trainers for pupils in the programme.

According to the Education Minister, the “central focus is not on creating the next clatter of elite football players, although we do have our eyes set on 2026 [World Cup]. This programme goes well beyond that and uses football as a medium for exposing our pupils to a range of vital life skills and competencies to transcend what they do on the field.”

Education Minister Priya Manickchand testing her football skill (Photo: Ministry of Education)

Manickchand added, “What is admirable is that it provides an array of development activities that concurrently develops our children’s psychosocial and social-emotional capacity.”

The content of the life skills programme entails themes such as personal understanding; relationships and teamwork; skills for living in the world; and health and well-being. It also addresses key topics such as good sportsmanship, winning and losing, bullying, effective communication and diversity.

Sport Minister, Charles Ramson Jr., reflected on the “organic structure” cricket had over the years which reaped success and this is the beginning of similar for football from the grassroot level to find talents at an infancy stage of skill after which they ideally progress through the various stages to reach the international stage.

The Sport Minister referenced the progress made by Senior Lady Jags Annalisa Vincent, who formative years were spent in Region One, as a model of what can be achieved through a structured programme.

Sport Minister Charles Ramson Jr. addressing the gathering (Photo: Ministry of Education)

GFF President Wayne Forde indicated the programme is part of the Federation’s ambitious goal of qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup which will be hosted by Concacaf.

Forde envisioned that with such teamwork present, “anything is possible for football in Guyana” and the aim is to have at least one Concacaf C-License Coach in each school over the next two years.

Alexandre Gros, FIFA’s Project Leader for Football in Schools, expressed gratitude for the support of the Government in this project and underscored that getting young people involved at such ages in sport at such young ages increases their chances of keeping healthy lifestyles in adulthood.

General Secretary of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), Camara David, and Douglas Slater, Assistant Secretary-General (Human and Social) at Caricom Secretariat, both spoke of Guyana being a pioneer for the initiative in the region and hopes to see its expansion.

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