By Ken Reed
FIFA’s World Cup games are watched by millions of people around the world. That’s impactful as the games excite and inspire fans, especially the young variety. As a result, more children are likely to play soccer, or play more often, which will benefit their physical and mental health.
However, in the poorest and most remote areas of the world, people aren’t able to watch (or listen to) World Cup games. They often don’t have soccer balls to play with, even if they want to. And those who do have soccer balls often lack access to effective coaching.
Into this void steps FIFA’s “Football For Schools” project. The goal of this initiative is to get soccer balls to 700 million elementary school children around the world, the majority of which are in poor, remote regions of the globe. The plan is to touch half of the world’s children, ages 4 to 14. The program has an initial budget of $100 million from FIFA. In addition to Adidas soccer balls, the program includes a free cellphone app with soccer training drills and teaching information. The app allows a teacher, or any adult, to develop practice sessions for kids, no matter how limited their soccer background may be.
Football For Schools “is the most important project in the world of football,” according to Steve Pila, who is managing the Football For Schools rollout in South Africa. “Even a teacher in the most rural area is able to take young boys and girls together and, at the palm of your hand, you have something to do with them.”
An added bonus is that via a partnership with UNESCO, the United Nations education agency, the app also includes a life skills program.
It’s a great project and FIFA deserves kudos for developing it. I’ve certainly been critical of FIFA’s corrupt actions in the past but in this case, they are using “sport for good” with this new soccer/life skills program.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families. Linda writes extensively about how youth sports can hijack families, and family outings, non-sports activities and bonding time are lost in the pursuit of the next club team game or travel tournament.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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