The first-ever FIFA grassroots course held in Gaza since the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) became affiliated to FIFA in 1998 is set to conclude on Friday 2 October, and has involved the participation of 30 local coaches supervised by FIFA instructor Jamal Lahrache (Morocco).

The landmark five-day activity hosted at the Islamic University of Gaza’s stadium has comprised practical and theoretical training in the areas of football coaching and organisation, with the aim of providing participants with the necessary technical tools to run self-sufficient grassroots projects in cooperation with the PFA. A grassroots festival with the participation of children from Gaza will bring the course to an end on Friday.

“This activity represents a major step in our efforts to promote football at grassroots level and develop a new generation of talented players,” said the PFA Deputy Secretary General Mohammad Ammassi.

“We have found a very talented group of youth coaches. We see this course as an initial pillar to empower the participants to promote grassroots activities within their communities and bring more children into football,” commented Lahrache.

As part of its global approach to grassroots development in Palestine, FIFA is set to organise a follow-up course in Ramallah from 17 to 22 October 2015.

“The course has brought us up to date on the latest trends in grassroots football. There is great potential in our home towns, which we want to exploit through well-organised grassroots activities,” said one of the course participants, Mohammed Abu Eita.

Between 2011 and 2014, some 300 grassroots courses and festivals were organised and 15,000 coaches trained by FIFA in 143 countries, and more than 350 such events are scheduled to take place over the next four years. The grassroots budget has been increased from USD 8 million (2011-14) to 10.5 million (2015-18). A total of 60,000 youngsters have taken part in FIFA grassroots festivals to date, with 80,000 more expected by the end of 2018.