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3rd AFC Grassroots Conference 2023 lays emphasis on increased participation

Published at :November 23, 2023 at 10:16 PM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : AFC Media)

Khel Now

The AFC Grassroots Conference was held for three days.

Returning after a five-year hiatus, the 3rd AFC Grassroots Conference 2023 successfully concluded on Thursday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital city, under the theme of "Promoting Asia's Grassroots Football."

Over the course of three days, technical directors, grassroots football managers, and FIFA Regional Technical Consultants from across Asia convened to discuss ways to expand the reach of the beautiful game, as underlined by the AFC’s Vision to maintain football’s position as the Continent’s number one sport. 

In his opening address, Asian Football Confederation (AFC) General Secretary Datuk Seri Windsor John said: “We must remain resolute in our mission to make our great game accessible to all and ensure that our diverse communities are given the opportunity to experience the power of football, regardless of their background, abilities, or access to resources.”

“We have to remember that not every child who embarks on this journey will go on to play professionally but the values that are instilled at this formative stage will empower them for the rest of their lives,” he added.

With the primary focus of the Conference centred on the expansion of the AFC Grassroots Charter and increasing player participation, AFC Technical Director Andy Roxburgh, in his keynote address, shared the salient features that define grassroots football and the role it plays in not just contributing to the development of future footballers but a healthy community with well-rounded individuals.

He also touched on some of the key undertakings of the AFC such as the AFC Emotions in Football Project, which seeks to train leaders of grassroots football to assist young participants in managing their emotions and enhancing their ability to relate to others.

The second day of the Conference kicked off with an informative session on the Amateur Football Research Analysis, led by FIFA Head of Technical Development Services Juerg Nepfer and FIFA Global Football Development Division Consultant Max De Vylder. 

The duo offered key insights into how a comprehensive understanding of amateur football, which accounts for 99 percent of all footballers in the world, allows for tailor-made support for MAs in their efforts to provide everyone in their territories with a chance to play. 

Several interactive dialogues were also conducted, which enabled grassroots managers from the AFC MAs to exchange information on topics such as the operational activities of their respective grassroots leagues and their strategies to promote mass participation in the coming years.

Led by AFC Grassroots Consultant Robin Russell, an insightful session on Global Grassroots Development was yet another highlight of the Conference as the focus shifted to the ways in which grassroots development improves a population's overall health, wealth, and the happiness quotient.

On the third and final day of the Conference, UEFA’s Lennard Van Ruiven, who is also the Director of Football Development of the KNVB in the Netherlands, presented a case study on the landscape of Dutch grassroots football, which allowed the participants to gain an understanding of how the existing systems in their own organisations could be improved. 

“It is great to have the AFC Grassroots Conference return after so many years. Our Continent is so diverse and, with some of our MAs doing so well, it has been a great learning opportunity. The Conference has helped us gather information on the best ways to enhance our respective grassroots programmes, especially when it comes to strategising ways to increase the participation of young girls,” said Jordan Football Association’s Laila Alazzam.