In 1992, UEFA convened a working group on the subject of children’s football. The members produced a working paper on the subject, in which they declared that UEFA and its member associations must take responsibility for this vital area of football development. The collective standpoint at that time was a successful top level can only be achieved through serious and solid base work.
This recognition was the birth of dedicated grassroots football in Europe and, for the first time, acknowledged its essential nature to the long-term continuity of football. It was also the turning point for progressive development and integration. This consensus has evolved during the years to support the overall concept of football for all.
The importance of grassroots football has been underlined various times at official UEFA events. The UEFA Presidents and General Secretaries Conference in Prague in 2001 led to the following declaration on grassroots football: "The representatives recognised the value of grassroots programmes as a vehicle for educational, social and sporting development." More recently, at the UEFA Congress in Paris in 2011, UEFA President Michel Platini praised the devotion and passion of thousands of grassroots coaches and volunteers all over Europe. The general importance of grassroots football was also highlighted during this event.
UEFA Grassroots Charter: In 2004, UEFA created a Grassroots Charter with the aim of expanding and improving grassroots activities within its member associations. The charter recognises the importance of non-professional and non-elite football as the foundation level of the European football pyramid structure. It is this base level that plants the passion for football in our homes, schools, playgrounds and communities – and so begins the football generation of tomorrow.
UEFA is motivating its member associations in reinforcing grassroots programmes, and signing the charter means a country has satisfied certain minimum criteria - 54 UEFA member associations are confirmed charter signatories. The charter is being restructured to include a series of new criteria. The new guidelines mainly focus on growth, retention, coach education and fair play.
UEFA Grassroots Workshop: Since 1999, UEFA organises a Grassroots Workshop with the help of the hosting associations, and involving grassroots representatives from all national associations. These workshops take place every two years and their aim is to brief the national associations' grassroots managers about developments on a European level and to share examples of best practice in grassroots football. The aim is also to discuss new ideas and activities which can be implemented nationally to allow the national association programmes to be taken to the next level. The latest event was held in Ljubljana, Slovenia, from 11-15 April 2016. All national associations were represented, as well as all the continental confederations and the world football body FIFA.
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