By offering both financial and practical support, UEFA is teaming up with the Norwegian Football Association to help boost the game's development in countries such as Iraq and Jordan.
UEFA has teamed up with the Norwegian Football Association (NFF) to help boost the game's development in the Middle East.
By offering substantial final assistance and providing the practical wherewithal of some 2,000 adidas footballs, the European body is co-operating with the NFF at a particularly busy time for the association's international development programme.
Last month, 800 of the UEFA-supplied footballs were distributed among the 36 Iraqi coaches who participated in an NFF grassroots football school held in Erbil, northern Iraq, between 28 and 31 October.
Coaching clinics planned
The local delegates were led by four experienced Norwegian coaches in a training seminar aimed at preparing them to run a Norway Grassroots Football School in the country. The NFF coaches, collaborating with the Iraqi Football Association, plan for the football school to organise weekly clinics in various towns and cities, geared towards children aged between 8 and 12. The target is to involve a total of 3,000 boys and girls.
Each local coach was given 15 UEFA-donated footballs in addition to other equipment, while the Kurdistan Football Association received its own batch of balls for use by children and young people in northern Iraq. The Erbil event also saw the opening of six new football fields created by the NFF in the area.
UEFA's investment funds are also being directed towards a Middle East Girls Festival, to take place in Amman, the capital of Jordan, from 23 to 29 November. The NFF has invited the Jordanian hosts, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Norway itself to send 16 players apiece, aged between 14 and 16, to train and play tournament matches together – in multinational, rather than national teams – as part of an international exchange.
Commitment to region
The educational activities will extend to women coaches and referees who will be guided by their experienced counterparts from the NFF. As part of its invaluable work in developing the game's grassroots in the region, the association is also building football pitches in Amman and Damascus, with a delivery of adidas balls also destined for the latter city, Syria's capital. The NFF intends to expand its activities to Palestine in 2010.