Women’s Football and African Schools Football leads agenda in DRC

A FIFA delegation, led by Secretary General Fatma Samoura, visited Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo to meet with officials from the Congolese Football Federation (FECOFA) and the government to discuss women’s football and the pan-African Schools Championship. Upon arrival the delegation travelled to the FECOFA headquarters and met with Acting President Donatien Tshimanga, FECOFA’s Women’s Football Manager Olive Kiloha and Vice Presidents and members of the FECOFA Executive Committee (ExCo) to discuss the importance of player welfare, particularly for female players, and the development of the African Schools Football Championship, which will kick off in the DRC before being rolled out in collaboration with CAF and the African Union throughout Africa.

Following meetings at FECOFA, the delegation paid courtesy calls to UNWomen DRC’s Office, led by Ms. Awa Ndiaye Seck the Country  Representative, UN Development Programme DRC Office led by Mr. Dominic Sam and the offices of the World Food Programme (WFP) DRC led by the Country Director and Representative Peter J Musoko. Talks with UN representatives focused on fighting poverty, food insecurity, malnutrition and gender-based violence, empowering girls and women and supporting vulnerable communities affected by the conflict to rebuild their lives and livelihoods, while providing economic opportunities to youth and women. The next day the FIFA Secretary General returned to the FECOFA headquarters to meet with members of ‘Les Leopards Dames’, the DRC Women’s Senior team, relating to their forfeit of the Women’s AFCON. (Read more)

The Secretary General and the FIFA delegation then travelled to the Presidential Palace, Palais de la Nation, for the final item on their itinerary, talks with President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Félix Tshisekedi, who is also the current Chairperson of the African Union (AU).

Discussions covered women’s football in the DRC and the importance of safeguarding players, in addition to the imminent launch of the African Schools Football Championship.

In collaboration with the FECOFA, FIFA and the government of the DRC will organise football tournaments in 240 schools in 14 regions and cities throughout the country, which has a population of almost 90 million people, before being scaled up in several other countries in Africa with the support of CAF.

The tournament will use the power of the game to improve lives and instil positive values in young people. It will also promote health and support social cohesion by integrating football training into the school curriculum to teach children the importance of team work, self-confidence, strategy, respecting rules, how to be a good winner and how to deal with losing.

Speaking following her audience with the President of the DRC, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said: “Today’s meeting with President Tshisekedi provided a great opportunity to discuss the development of football in the DRC and how to best nourish the game at grassroots level through initiatives like the African Schools Football Championship. "We discussed the preparations for the launch of the tournament in the DRC shortly and are very much looking forward to seeing some of the great talents it will reveal among young African boys and girls. We also agreed on the importance of robust co-ordination between the Ministry of Sports and Leisure with the FECOFA in order to safeguard players and prioritize their well being.”