The Grassroots pilot project in China has proved to be of particular importance, as it has served as a dress rehearsal prior to the launch of the full, definitive programme. After numerous projects that, over time, identified the requirements and potential obstacles, as well as the most suitable training methods, China has now put the finishing touches to its Grassroots programme model.

The principles of FIFA’s Grassroots scheme lie in it being open to everyone and being free of discrimination of any sort. All children are welcome to come along and discover the joys of football. This poses two questions: can this philosophy be put into practice anywhere, and is it actually possible to implement Grassroots all over the world?

After having tested out a Grassroots pilot project in China, FIFA is today pleased to be able to provide an affirmative response to both questions. China and its vast land mass presented FIFA with a tricky challenge – how do you go about introducing Grassroots over such an enormous area, where the notion of children playing football is not necessarily viewed as an everyday activity?

The answers were to be found in the underlying values of the Grassroots programme, based on principles of equality and country-specific coaching, as well as in the considerable cooperation between FIFA, the Chinese Football Association (CFA), the FIFA instructors and two local football associations, in Kunming and Wuhan.

The first phase of Grassroots in China took place in Kunming and Wuhan, with seminars held in each city.

The objectives of these seminars were to:

  • explain Grassroots football philosophy to the participants, the CFA and local associations
  • pass on key knowledge to the Chinese instructors in attendance
  • present the theory behind organising a Grassroots festival, then put theory into practice by actually arranging such a festival
  • help the associations, be they national or local, in their collaborative initiatives with educational bodies and other stakeholders

Constructive sessions
In the high-quality confines of Wuhan and Kunming Sports Centres, 82 instructors from all the major provinces and cities in China came to participate in the seminars. The highlights of these sessions included the enthusiastic participation of the huge number of children at the festivals (the turnout was especially impressive in Kunming, where 30 schools and over 1,100 children took part), the considerable interest in the programme shown by the CFA, and the constructive debates that took place between FIFA instructors, participants and local and national football association representatives. 

Following on from these two seminars, FIFA is now convinced that the Grassroots programme will be a success for the Chinese Football Association.