Given a number of pressing commitments, parents may question why providing football in schools is necessary. Firstly, the F4S Programme is not designed to detract from teaching or classroom time, and it is actually intended to complement the efforts of educators and advance education outcomes. Secondly, research shows that football (or sport in general) is essential for the well-being of young people and that it provides a useful vehicle through which to transmit life skills and other important messages.
Football in the education system
Football is capable of playing a vital role in the education system and acting as a “school of life”. Evidence published by the United Nations in 2003 demonstrates that young people who spend five hours doing exercise per week tend to perform better academically than those who are active for less than an hour. The F4S Programme aims to strengthen education for learners and contribute to their development.
Football and life skills
Participation in sport has been shown to have multiple physical, social and psychological benefits for learners of all ages. Children around the world can learn important life skills and values through intentionally designed sport-based initiatives such as the F4S Programme. Life skills include competencies and interpersonal skills that help people to make informed decisions, solve problems, think critically and creatively, communicate effectively, build healthy relationships, empathise with others, and cope with and manage their lives in a healthy and productive manner.
The F4S Programme seeks to build the following life skills among young people.
- Personal understanding (intrapersonal and cognitive skills): includes developing self-confidence, self-respect, self-awareness, self-control, self-reliance, critical thinking, decision-making and a growth mindset
- Relationships (interpersonal skills): includes developing assertive communication, empathy, peer support and relationship skills
- Living in the wider world (active citizen skills): includes respect for differences, understanding of sustainable development, values of equality and leadership skills
- Health and well-being (healthy behaviour): includes physical activity, mental health promotion, healthy decision-making, risk assessment, nutrition, good hygiene and personal safety
Football and health
Football has the ability to improve physical and mental health and well-being, and reduce the chance of future diseases. This is especially important as rates of physical activity are declining worldwide and lifestyle diseases are increasing rapidly, as illustrated by the World Health Organization (2014).
Additional benefits of football
Football can produce a range of other benefits, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Bringing different groups of people together and bridging divides (social cohesion)
- Providing employment and contributing to the economy
- Promoting youth development – empowering young people to develop skills and capabilities
- Providing opportunities for girls and women and challenging gender stereotypes
- Tackling climate change by promoting green spaces and respect for the environment
Football (or sport) as a human right
Access to football, like any other sport, is a universal human right. This is recognised by the United Nations and countries all over the world who have signed commitments pledging to ensure that all people, regardless of background or ability, are able to access sport. However, this right is often referred to as “the forgotten right” and together we can ensure that it is alive and kicking.