In June 2019, FIFA signed an agreement with the French Development Agency (AFD), recognising football’s importance as a driver of development. Thanks to their partnership, a number of projects will be rolled out in French-speaking sub-Saharan Africa in the near future. The plan is to extend them to other countries in the years to come.
In pursuing its Sport and Development strategy, the main objective of which is to bring people closer together through the inclusion of women in society and the fight against inequality, the AFD is committed to ensuring that all the projects it funds promote gender equality. It will be giving its backing to projects tackling these problems through to 2022.
The targeting of these shared objectives and the desire to pool resources to achieve them is at the heart of this ground-breaking partnership between world football’s governing body and one of Europe’s largest development agencies.
As part of the partnership, four projects will soon see the light of day.
The first, which goes by the name of Championnes!, will provide support for 6,000 girls in Guinea, Benin and Togo and 1,000 of their family members. Its main aim is to use football to give these young players a quality education in a safe environment. This pilot project, which will run until 2023, promotes women’s football as a tool for empowering girls, safeguarding children’s rights and fighting gender-based violence.
The second project will see the launch of a call for proposals across Africa in a bid to combat Covid-19. Public and private football stakeholders will be invited by FIFA and the AFD to put forward initiatives that harness the values of football to tackle the ongoing health crisis.
A third project will be rolled out in Guinea, where the Guinean Football Federation (FEGUIFOOT) has put funding from the FIFA Forward development programme to excellent use in building the first football academy for girls in Africa. The AFD is giving its backing to this ambitious social project over a period of three years, providing support for the education that girls attending the academy will receive. The initiative also includes a gender-based violence and child protection awareness programme for the academy’s employees, a scholarship system and logistical support.
Finally, a project for the construction and renovation of school football pitches will be implemented in Benin. The initiative follows on from an agreement signed in January 2020 by FIFA, the Beninese Football Association (FBF) and the Beninese government for the development of grassroots football and the creation of a physical education programme and a school football championship for girls and boys.
In lending its support to the venture, the AFD wants to ensure that children can play their favourite sport in a secure environment that encourages their development. These projects all seek to show how football can have a positive impact for African youngsters in terms of gender equality, education, health and other issues.
The two partners are expected to continue working together on new projects in the future to guarantee the development of football as a vehicle promoting equality and inclusion.
Through their partnership, FIFA and the AFD are pooling their strength and resources to promote unifying, educational, cultural and humanitarian values around the world through youth-oriented football development programmes.
The cooperation between the two, which is non-political in nature and responsible in terms of the management and monitoring of allocated resources, is both flexible and results-oriented. It will enable partners to pull together with their development efforts and will also enhance FIFA’s ability to develop the game and expand that of the AFD in drawing on football’s potential as a vehicle for sustainable development.
Further projects are in the process of being evaluated and will be rolled out alongside existing ones. Like the others that make up this partnership, they will continue to focus on the following two goals:
Empowering women through football: Supporting gender equality and female empowerment by promoting women’s football
The promotion of sport at school: Encouraging children to play sport at school and using football to achieve educational goals