One of UEFA's core values is to nurture football's grassroots, and Europe's national associations follow suit with their own unstinting work – all based on the fundamental view that without healthy foundations, the game's elite cannot blossom.
UEFA and its national associations come together in Oslo next week for the 10th UEFA Grassroots Workshop, which will be held under the theme 'Nurturing Grassroots Football – Together'. The workshop is seen as a crucial and important moment for grassroots growth in Europe.
European football's governing body organises grassroots activities that reflect its determination to keep football's basis in rude health. The UEFA Grassroots Charter was launched in 2004 to stimulate the national associations to develop and further improve their national grassroots activities, while UEFA Grassroots Day is a celebration of grassroots football across the continent, held each May around the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Women's Champions League finals.
UEFA has been reinforcing its grassroots activities in recent times, spreading its message throughout Europe to include sectors such as football for the disabled. Children are also being targeted in the campaign to show the joy of football. The philosophy is that the game is not just a sport for the elite. It is available for everyone, irrespective of size, shape, colour or faith. It is a real sporting democracy which offers educational values, health benefits, social opportunities and sporting worth. Soccer is a wonderful vehicle for personal and sporting development. At the base of the pyramid, grassroots football benefits all levels of the game – and it should never be forgotten that today's top players were once grassroots players as they set out on their careers.
Delegates from UEFA's 53 full member associations will meet in Norway to debate the way forward for grassroots football, and also to meet various external grassroots experts. The goal is to exchange ideas and information about developments at European level, and to discuss new ideas and activities which could be beneficial at national level.
The workshop, staged in cooperation with the Football Association of Norway (NFF), will feature discussions and practical sessions at outstanding local grassroots clubs. Various FAs and professional clubs are presenting specific and often innovative elements of their grassroots activities and approaches, with the idea being to pass on best practice and crucial advice. Guests from afar will also be highlighting grassroots football efforts and visions beyond Europe.
The event will cover various aspects of grassroots promotion, underline football's social responsibilities, give an insight into pioneering schemes and offer participants concrete ideas for extending participation at all levels. The talks will, among other things, focus on how flagship events such as final tournaments and international and domestic finals can help boost grassroots football, and how the bridge between the grassroots and professional games can be strengthened. Women's and girls' football, and the work being undertaken to attract players, officials, referees and helpers to this flourishing sector of the sport, is also a key part of the agenda.
Moreover, the UEFA Grassroots Day Awards are presented each year to reward outstanding achievement in the field, and the Oslo event will see the 2013 awards handed out at a ceremony to honour the best grassroots leader, club and special project. Each of the nominees was recommended by the UEFA Grassroots Panel and the UEFA Development and Technical Assistance Committee, and ratified by the UEFA Executive Committee.
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