Under the chairmanship of HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, FIFA Vice President representing Asia and Chairman of the Asian Football Development Project (AFDP), AFDP and its Official Partner PepsiCo announced today recommendations on the development of grassroots football in Asia following two days of discussion sessions. The roundtable discussion was dedicated to the memory of the late Mr. Saad Abdul Latif - former CEO of PepsiCo Asia, Middle East, and North Africa.
Grassroots football experts representing AFC, UEFA, Bayern Munich FC, Chelsea FC, Magic Bus, World Vision and the football associations of Afghanistan, England, Germany, Japan, Jordan, Norway, Philippines and Vietnam participated in a number of brainstorming sessions in which the participants addressed the current status, challenges, opportunities and future of grassroots football with a special focus on Asia.
In the concluding sessions, the participants presented the final recommendations which included:
• Grassroots activities must be tailored to maximise the impact of the resources available.
• The initial priority for grassroots football in Asia is girls and boys from 5 to 12 years of age, followed by girls and boys from 13 to 19 years of age.
• Football bodies are encouraged to organize grassroots activities for men and women as well.
• In order to stimulate, promote and recognise grassroots football development in Asia, there is a need for Asian football to initiate a grassroots accreditation system outlining appropriate criteria from sporting, social and other perspectives and verification processes.
• It is in the best interest of Asian football for national associations and external organizations, such as government agencies, NGOs and private enterprise, to strengthen cooperation in grassroots activities through win-win partnerships with compatible goals. This partnerships may be used to increase awareness, disseminate key messages and generate revenue.
• Asian football bodies must share best practices from organizations large and small, and communicate grassroots information using the Internet and other media.
• AFC is encouraged to create a body dedicated to grassroots football in Asia.
• Asian associations are encouraged to employ a dedicated grassroots manager.
• Training that reaches out to communities must be provided for grassroots coaches and leaders across Asia, and opportunities must be given for them to build expertise and experience through practice.
• There is a need for a simple coaching manual for use in grassroots football and made available online to all Asian football bodies. It is recommended that this manual be accompanied by a skills test and a badge scheme
• Since child protection is essential in all grassroots activities, appropriate screening must be in place – each Asian association’s national youth team coaches should be screened as a minimum – and children, parents and coaches must receive appropriate education.
• AFDP will work with universities to gather academic research of benefit to grassroots football and football development in general.
"The discussions were open and fruitful and that is indeed how it should be in football. We are fortunate to have had a diverse group of people with expertise in grassroots development from Europe and Asia. We have shared experiences and managed to outline a preliminary path for AFC and others in Asia to follow in order to build and strengthen grassroots football across the continent and without discrimination," Prince Ali said.
Speaking on behalf of PepsiCo, Senior Marketing Director for the Middle East and Africa Mr. Hossam Dabbous noted that “Through our partnership with the Asian Football Development Project under the leadership and guidance of his Royal Highness Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein and building on the legacy of our former Chief Executive Officer, Saad Abdul-Latif, we are confident that this roundtable will pave the way for great and impactful solutions and programs that can positively impact the lives of youth and children across Asia.”