The first phase of the program includes 100 schools across the country
30 national trainers participated in the FIFA-led workshop
Senior leaders and officials attended the launch
Paraguay is the second CONMEBOL country and the eleventh worldwide to launch Football For Schools (F4S), the FIFA Foundation program designed to contribute to the education of thousands of children around the world. “The principle is to make football more accessible by integrating football activities into each country’s physical education curriculum,” explains Alexandra Huete, Football For Schools coordinator. “The objectives include promoting life skills through football, training teachers to ensure the sustainability of the project and strengthening cooperation between government, federations and schools. In the case of Paraguay, the first phase will branches,” she adds.
Huete led the FIFA team that conducted a theoretical and practical workshop for 30 national training coordinators on June 13, 14 and 15. On the last day, they organized a festival for more than 100 children, which served as the official launch. In attendance were heads of government and officials, the President of the Paraguayan Football Federation (APF), Robert Harrison, and Paraguay’s First Lady, Silvana López Moreira, demonstrating the degree of coordination and strategic importance of putting the program in place . The 30 national coordinators – 15 women and 15 men – were jointly elected by the APF and the National Sports Secretariat. Huete considers them “an important part of the success of the program” in the sense that they are responsible for teaching educators how to use the F4S app and delivering the program’s lessons to students from participating schools. .
Launch of the Football For Schools Program in Paraguay
Teachers and children on display at the official launch of the FIFA Football For Schools program in Paraguay
FIFA Football For Schools participants and authorities pose for a photo during the opening day of the workshop at APF headquarters
Epifanía Benítez, the coach who led Paraguay to the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018™ and now leads the U-17 Women’s team, is one of them. “It is essential to use the power of football to reinforce certain values in boys and girls. This program gives us additional tools to do our job better, such as the app, which we will use,” Benitez assures.
As a student of the first FIFA Mentoring Program, she is currently participating in the second edition, but this time as a mentor.
FIFA’s squad consists of former Paraguayan player Julio González Ferreira. In late 2005, 15 months after winning the silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic football tournament, the striker had his arm amputated after a car accident that ended his professional career. However, he did not give up on his dream and returned to the field two years later. “Without what football taught me, I would never have succeeded and I would not be who I am today,” said González Ferreira, who also works with underprivileged children in Asunción for the InterMilan Foundation. He addressed a message to trainers during the workshop: “You can make a difference. In addition to skills, it is often the attitude that counts. When you work directly with children.”
The entire senior women’s selection was present at the closing festival. She is preparing to participate in the Copa América, a qualifying tournament for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™. The football field of the Paraguayan Olympic Committee was divided into nine mini-fields, on which the internationals mixed with the boys and girls. The day left unforgettable memories for all participants. “The message we want to convey with Football For Schools is that football plays a very important role in personal development because it teaches values,” emphasizes Douglas Martínez, APF Director of Development. “It’s not about students becoming tomorrow’s elite players, but honorable Paraguayan citizens through education.”
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The FIFA Foundation was established as an independent entity to promote positive social change and support the restoration and reconstruction of damaged or destroyed sports infrastructure around the world.
Football for Schools (F4S) is an ambitious program launched by FIFA, in partnership with UNESCO, that aims to contribute to the education, development and empowerment of approximately 700 million children.