UEFA's commitment to grassroots football continues to grow. The UEFA Executive Committee has agreed that the build-up to the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League final in Madrid – the first final to be played on a Saturday – should include a celebration of grassroots football across Europe.
The committee, meeting recently in Bucharest, Romania, agreed that Wednesday 19 May 2010 should be designated as UEFA Grassroots Day. The event will not only emphasise the European body's stance on the grassroots sector of the game at an appropriate moment – elite football cannot flourish without a healthy grassroots – but will transmit the all-important message that football is open to everyone.
Eleven key values
In the XXXIII Ordinary UEFA Congress in Copenhagen in March, UEFA President Michel Platini presented eleven key values that should serve as the basis for its future activities, and grassroots is one of the essential values put forward. "Rugby is based on the grassroots, played everywhere by men and women, boys and girls," was the message to UEFA's member national associations. "The top professional level is just the tip of the iceberg. UEFA will continue with, and even strengthen, solidarity, both to protect the future of football and to deliver the wider benefits that our sport brings to society as a whole." Click here for the eleven key values
Various ideas are being considered in preparation for UEFA Grassroots Day. These include the creation of a web campaign which would provide educational and promotional material, target schools and local clubs and, among other things, help nurture youngsters' emotional development.
UEFA's 53 member associations – whose grassroots work is crucial at domestic level - will be fully involved, and UEFA is looking to organise a series of events for Grassroots Day. The Young Champions event at recent finals has given young boy and girl footballers an ideal opportunity to participate in the atmosphere surrounding European club football's blue-riband occasion, and the 24-hour Starball match has proved a popular and entertaining attraction. Star players – once grassroots players themselves and idols of youngsters – are also being earmarked to act as ambassadors.