We can all do something to make football more inclusive

We can all do something to make football more inclusive

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  • The football leadership program supports people with disabilities

  • The third edition graduation ceremony took place today

  • Joyce Cook: ‘We can all do something to make football a more inclusive space where everyone can achieve their dreams’

Last season, Arsenal headquarters witnessed the rise of a talented group of young footballers. The same scene was repeated on July 1 in the presence of new faces, on the occasion of the graduation ceremony for the third edition of the Football for All leadership program. The 2021/22 promotion began its work in Lisbon in October. The objective always remains the same: to offer prospects in sport to people with disabilities. Designed in collaboration and with the participation of major sports organizations such as FIFA, UEFA, the Center for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE), the Johan Cruyff Foundation, the Portuguese Football Federation, Arsenal and Benfica, this program also benefits from the support of recognized establishments such as Nova BSE or AISTS Lausanne. In total, 77% of the students of the first two promotions have since found a job in the field of sport.

To appreciate the importance of this programme, it is necessary to clarify the general context.

More than one billion people worldwide are considered disabled (15% of the world’s population).

The unemployment rate for these people varies between 50 and 90%. In the most developed countries, the unemployment rate of people with disabilities of working age is at least twice the national average.

According to some sources, football is the favorite sport of 3.5 billion people in the world. There is therefore no reason why it should not reflect the whole of society. Only by making room for people with disabilities can football become truly inclusive. The program is built around clear objectives: to develop participants’ skills and prepare the leaders of tomorrow; place participants at the center of an individual project linking sport and disability for lasting impact; create a network of professionals and encourage collaboration.

In addition, students are invited to design a personal development plan, work on professional tools, improve their self-esteem and confidence or even focus on their managerial skills, all under the guidance of personalities from the world of sport. .

FIFA Special Advisor Joyce Cook, Portugal coach Fernando Santos, FC Porto Portuguese international Pepe and PSG goalkeeper Adriana Criscione have agreed to become program ambassadors.

Joyce Cook spoke at the graduation ceremony: “For many reasons, my presence among you today means a great deal to me. What you have accomplished gives me great hope. , pride and enthusiasm”. “People with disabilities have a place to take among administrators, leaders and decision-makers. People with disabilities enjoy football, but that is not enough; their contribution can bring us a lot. Progress is possible in the area of ​​governance, resilience, innovation and development.”

“Of course, I am aware that we are all responsible. So this speech is also a call to action for everyone in this room. It is up to us, individually, to make things happen. We we can all act to make football a more inclusive space, where everyone can achieve their dreams.”

Did you know ?

FIFA aims to make the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ one of the most accessible international sporting events and leave a lasting legacy for people with disabilities in Qatar by highlighting the issue of accessibility and inclusion. Under these conditions, FIFA and the organizers are working to offer people with reduced mobility barrier-free access to the stadiums and, if necessary, assistance from a team of specially trained volunteers. During the FIFA Arab Cup™, a sensory room was made available to children and adults with special sensory needs. This is a first in a FIFA competition. Three of the eight stadiums for the next World Cup will have such facilities. We also offer an audio description commentary, so that blind or visually impaired supporters can also benefit from the atmosphere in the stadiums. In cooperation with Qatari Disability Associations, the Supreme Council for Handover and Legacy is organizing a program to make the World Cup a driving force for greater accessibility across the country. This Accessibility Forum has already established cooperation with public and air transport, but also with the cultural sector.

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