The landmark AFC-FIFA Safeguarding Orientation Webinar has successfully concluded after more than 100 participants from 46 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) member associations (MAs) and all five AFC regional associations (RA) joined the online programme.
The virtual webinar was staged in a four-part series where key speakers Kathryn Leslie, FIFA's head of safeguarding and child protection and Gloria Viseras, FIFA senior event safeguarding manager, shared their insights into the FIFA Guardians™ programme and toolkit launched by the world governing body in July last year.
AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John emphasised the importance of the webinar in showcasing the AFC’s commitment to safeguard and protect the children and young people across the continent.
“Our children and youth represent our future,” the AFC General Secretary said “This is an important issue which FIFA and the AFC are working together to ensure that our Member Associations practice the highest standards of safeguarding. The webinar is the first step in a long journey, but it is vital to educate our members on the best practices and how it can be applied.
“The future of football lies with the younger generation and it is our collective responsibility to provide the safest environment for children and young people to protect the future of the sport. I am delighted that the AFC is providing such a proactive lead in this important area,” he added.
“Safeguarding and child protection are a top priority for FIFA, and it is our role to support our member associations in implementing preventative measures at their level,” said Joyce Cook, FIFA Chief Social Responsibility & Education Officer.
“The fantastic response from AFC members at this webinar is very promising, and it shows that everyone understands how critical this matter is for football. We intend to roll out this capacity-building programme with similar workshops reaching out to the remaining FIFA member associations in early 2021.”
Participants hailed the informative webinar, which was the first-of-its-kind, and which provided a roadmap for MAs to implement.
Deputy General Secretary and Safeguarding lead for the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam Siti Zuraina said: “The webinar was packed with knowledge about child safeguarding and it is a reminder of our responsibilities towards children and how vital it is to protect them from harm – physically and mentally.
“After the webinar, the roadmap to a structured child safeguarding programme is clearer to create a safe environment for children and young adults. Credit goes to the AFC and FIFA for playing a leading role to assist MAs to implement this programme and for continuously checking on our progress.”
Safeguarding officer at the Lebanon Football Association (LFA), Zeina Abdallah added: “Safeguarding plays an essential role and has a great effect on the children involved in football. For that reason, we at the LFA believe the implementation of child safeguarding will be of great significance to their wellbeing.
“The webinar helped us establish a plan that includes where to start and what needs to be implemented. We also benefitted from the experiences presented and the questions asked from other MAs."