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Kuala Lumpur: The recent AFC Grassroots Football Day has been hailed as a resounding success with a record number of Member Associations contributing to the event.

The Bahrain Football Association (BFA) organised a festival and grassroots instructors course for all affiliate clubs under its purview at the National Stadium on May 15. The instructors course, which was conducted by local AFC ‘B’ licence coaches, also benefitted from a star studded line-up of local icons and former internationals including Alaa Hubail, Husain Ali Pele, Talal Yusuf, and Mohamed Salmeen.

BFA General Secretary Hasan Ismail reinforced the BFA’s commitment to grow the grassroots game by signalling the BFA’s intention to expand the festival and courses throughout the year.

Technical Operation Manager Mr. Aabed Al Ansari said that the objectives of the festival were multi-faceted, which include enabling coaches to organise more grassroots festivals island-wide, training and expanding the pool of coaches as well as to nurture their capabilities in a holistic learning environment.

In conjunction with the AFC Grassroots Football Day, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) launched a nationwide series of grassroots football activities themed, "Football for All”.

Director of the CFA’s Football for All, Luo Zhao reiterated the CFA’s commitment to the promotion and implementation of the grassroots game. He added that CFA had redesigned the various programmes this year to better align its comprehensive coverage with the AFC’s Grassroots Philosophy.

From beach soccer, to youth football and people with disabilities, the CFA continued to work with key stakeholders to bring joy and enhance social development in various provinces over the next month as efforts to grow grassroots football continues in the world’s most populous nation.

In Japan, the prefectural football associations with the support from the Japan Football Association (JFA) held various grassroots events across the nation on Sunday, May 14.

In the Gifu Prefecture, the local football association hosted the ‘JFA Kids Football Festival’ at the Nakaike Sports Park in Seki City. Over 100 children and adults regardless of their playing ability participated in the festival aimed at igniting their love for the sport.

Festival organiser Gifu Football Association (GFA) also held a ‘Kids Leader Training Course’ for future instructors, who later in the day led a football clinic for children along with members of the Kids Development Committee. True to the philosophy of grassroots, the activities in the festival were a culmination of the concerted efforts of coaches, teachers, parents and volunteers.

Similar to the Jordan Football Association’s (JFA) celebration over the past three years, close to 150 boys and girls from 12 grassroots centres across the country were divided into six fun-filled stations which comprised small sided matches, fun telematch activities and technical drills.

Fresh healthy meals and beverages were distributed to participants to reinforce the importance of cultivating healthy eating habits and nutrition. The day concluded with a prize giving ceremony and group photo sessions with participants, players, coaches, parents, JFA representatives and sponsors. 

The Lebanese Football Association (LBA) celebrated the AFC Grassroots Football Day by bringing together 144 students from 12 schools in six different provinces. Each player was given the opportunity to play up to 15 small sided matches.

Similarly, the LBA also invited 96 female players from eight schools, aged between 13-14 years of age from 6 provinces. Each school played a minimum of three matches in the first round before the semi- final and final stage. Medals and trophy were distributed at the participants.

The Macau Football Association (MFA) commemorated the AFC Grassroots Football Day by holding their first-ever Women’s Futsal League. With grassroots and youth development representing one of the key pillars of the MFA strategic plan, all participating teams were required to field a mandatory youth player. The competition also coincided with the re-launch of the Macau Youth League.

The MFA also organised a festival for children one week before the AFC Grassroots Football Day as well as a veteran’s match for community players, with plans to hold an Annual Macau Football Day in July this year.

In celebration of the AFC Grassroots Football Day 2017, the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association (NMIFA) hosted the 3v3 Grassroots Festival at the Koblerville Elementary School field. More than 200 children from different local football clubs and public elementary schools participated in the event.

An AFC Grassroots Football Day shirt, medal and trophy brought a smile to the winners who were also cheered on by their parents. The event, which was a huge success among participants and parents, looks set to be a mainstay on the Northern Mariana Islands football calendar with the Associate Member Association already setting their sights on preperations for next year’s competition.

The AFC Grassroots Football Day was celebrated over two weekends in Singapore with over 200 children and parents from the Serangoon, Hong Kah and Sembawang Cubs Centres, ActiveSG Serangoon and Sembawang Primary School participating in five-a-side games over the weekend on May 14 and 15.

The celebrations continued the following week with the FIFA “Live Your Goals” (LYG) Centre Festivals at Queensway Secondary and Bowen Secondary Schools on 20 and 21 May respectively. The LYG Centre Festivals, which saw girls aged six to 15 pit their skills in small-sided games, were free and open for all registrants.

Other events organised included the FAS Grassroots Coaching Course and the National Primary Schools Football Championship Junior Girls 2017 semi-finals on 17 May, followed by the Third Place Playoff and Final on 19 May.

Displaying sheer resilience, strength and passion for the game, the Syrian Football Association marked their first-ever AFC Grassroots Football Day celebration despite challenging circumstances, with not one, or two, but three activities.

Spread over two months, four volunteer coaches engaged with 108 boys and girls, beginning first with football clinics at the Fares Al Sham Academy on March 25. The Fares Al Sham Academy was the centre of the action once again when parents were invited to celebrate Mother’s Day.

The volunteer coaches then continued their engagements, paying a visit to the main orphanage in Damascus, where children benefitted from a football clinic before being presented with gifts.

Marking their first-ever celebration of the landmark grassroots event in the AFC calendar, the Federação Futebol Timor-Leste (FFTL) brought together 250 boys and girls from the capital of Dili at Campo Democracia over two days.

Inspired by the success of this year’s grassroots festival, the FFTL has not only set their sights participating again next year, but has targeted a significant participation increase through extensive expansion plans across the country.

Taking a partnership approach, the Uzbekistan Football Federation (UFF) organised the AFC Grassroots Football Day along with the Ministry of Education, Children's Sports Development Foundation. 

More than 200 boys and girls, aged from eight to 12, from schools in Tashkent took part in the festival. After demonstrating their skills, participants were then divided into gaming stations which included drills such as juggling, dribbling, passing, shooting, running speed and ball control.

Adding a competitive element, several contests were organised, as well as small sided matches. Participants also gleaned insights from instructors on basic techniques and skills, as well as the technical elements of football. The festival ended with all participants receiving a certificate for their efforts.