Fatma Samoura attends launch alongside Philippine women's national team
Says "Football for Schools programme will add momentum" to game's growth in country
Philippine Football Federation (PFF) used FIFA Forward funds to revamp women's league
FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura has attended the launch ceremony of the FIFA Football for Schools (F4S) programme in the Philippines. The F4S programme aims to bring football to millions of children around the world via the existing education system in their country, and blends teaching football skills with those required to empower them and increase their employability. Ms Samoura kicked off the F4S initiative in the archipelago by highlighting the importance of the work of the more than 30 grassroots development officers who were also in attendance.
"F4S is gaining momentum with around half of the 211 Member Associations now having joined the programme. But we need everyone to bring this project to life, and I'm delighted to see so many grassroots development officers from across the country here today - it is you who will turn the theory on paper into practice on the pitch," said Ms Samoura. "You are now the FIFA F4S ambassadors in your country, and along with the PFF working in tandem with the Department of Education and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) to train teachers and community coaches, I am convinced you will pass on to so many school children so many valuable skills, for football and for their future." The 250 children attending the ceremony also got the opportunity to meet the Philippines women's national team, who made history by competing in the FIFA Women's World Cup™ earlier this year, their first-ever participation.
The historic qualification and memorable win in the group stage against hosts New Zealand, follows a significant change in domestic women's football in the Asian nation. A regional pioneer in the women's game, the Philippines slipped behind its neighbours as domestic football was largely played only at amateur level, never getting beyond the group phase of the AFC Women's Asian Cup before 2018. The PFF switched focus to youth development, and with the use of FIFA Forward funding, revamped the face of domestic women's football with a new league, which has now borne fruit at international level.
"Seeing the Philippines in Australia and New Zealand was simply fantastic, one of the 32 best women's teams on the planet. You were an inspiration to me, and you can see in the faces of the children here today just what you mean to them. Congratulations to you all on your historic achievement," said Ms Samoura. "Congratulations too to President [Mariano] Araneta and the whole of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF), because it was your achievement too. It shows what can be done when we mix your determination and hard work with FIFA's support."
FIFA Secretary General visits The Philippines
FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura during FIFA Football 4 Schools in Manila, Philippines