UEFA and the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) staged a special grassroots event offering more than 90 children the opportunity to test their skills against several footballing legends.
Tuesday’s Limassol event welcomed boys and girls aged 12-13 to the city’s Alphamega Stadium.
It celebrated UEFA’s successful Football in Schools initiative, which offers children across Europe access to high-quality and enjoyable coaching.
Joining the children on the pitch for fun matches and skill challenges were UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin and former stars, including Croatian pair Zvonimir Boban and Aljoša Asanović, Germany’s Nadine Kessler and Portugal’s Luís Figo.
The event represented the flagship moment in UEFA Grassroots Week, which, aligned with the European Week of Sport, promotes a healthy, active lifestyle and places the spotlight on the millions across the continent involved in football for the love of the game and the countless benefits it brings.
Čeferin said: “This Football in Schools event is always one of the nicest in the UEFA calendar.
“It’s great that we can come here to Cyprus and make so many children happy, and you can see how excited they are to see these stars.
“I often emphasise that football isn’t only about elite-level play.
“While top-tier football is great and generates revenue to support initiatives like this, it’s crucial to recognise the significance of football’s essential values.
“The same values children can embrace from an early age by participating in the beautiful game of football.”
CFA president George Koumas said: “We are very proud to stage this event.
“We want to take football to every school in Cyprus, and as a federation, we have donated footballs to every school and opened coaching academies for teachers so that they can transfer skills to the kids.
“We are a small country, and we could not do this alone without the assistance from UEFA, who transfer the knowledge to the coaches in our administration.
“It’s very important to us, and a big thank you to UEFA because without this, we cannot make the step forward.”
The CFA, which earlier this year won the UEFA Grassroots Award for Best Participation Initiative, aims to educate one teacher in every elementary school across the country as part of its commitment to getting 50,000 children aged 6-12 to play the game.
On Monday, European football’s governing body announced a renewal of the Football in Schools programme, committing €11m between 2024 and 2028 to get more children playing in school.
Early exposure to the sport helps not just develop a love of the game; it encourages a healthy, active lifestyle, teaches important motor skills, and develops life skills such as teamwork, respect and fair play. (source UEFA.com)