Bhubaneswar: “Investment in sports is investment in youth. And investment in youth is investment in the future,” said Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, here today.
Virtually inaugurating India’s first-ever FIFA Football for School Programme at Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), Mr.Patnaik said, “Such collaboration to incorporate football activities into the education system will make football more accessible to both boys and girls at the grassroots.”
Mr.Patnaik, who has an insuperable record in promoting sports in Odisha and nationwide, congratulated KIIT and KISS for sustainably creating a conducive ecosystem in channelising passion for sports and nurturing sporting talent and promoting it for the last two decades.
Football for Schools (F4S) is an ambitious world-wide programme run by FIFA. The FIFA Foundation selected sport-loving Odisha as the perfect location to launch the new programme, which aims to make football more accessible to both girls and boys throughout the world. Empowering boys and girls with valuable life skills and competencies, the programme provides coach-educators with the training they need to deliver education through sport.
The launch ceremony was virtually graced Swiss Parliamentarian Dr. Nik Gugger, and FIFA President Gianni Infantino, while Odisha Sports Minister Tusharkanti Behera, KIIT and KISS Founder Achyuta Samanta, AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das, FIFA Foundation CEO Youri Djorkaeff and other dignitaries were in attendance in person.
In his virtual address, Dr. Gugger said, “The State of Odisha, under the leadership of Shri Naveen Patnaik, has been promoting sports in a big way and has created an example for the whole country.” Commending Samanta’s contributions to sports, he said, “Dr. Samanta has created unparalleled sports infrastructure and invested in sports and sportspersons that is now yielding returns. This first ever initiative of Football for Schools programme by FIFA in the world is an outcome of his relentless contribution in the field of sports.”
FIFA President Gianni Infantino sent his best wishes for a successful launch. “This is a landmark occasion. I congratulate you all for having taken on the first pilot project in India, opening doors for the launch of the project throughout the country. The State of Odisha is perfectly positioned to lead us forward, thanks to the valuable support of the Government of Odisha.
Speaking on the occasion, Youri Djorkaeff said, “Being here to launch Football for Schools in India, one of the first countries in which we are launching the programme, represents a huge step toward achieving the dreams of children throughout the country. I have seen the dedication shown by the coaches who will deliver Football for Schools, and the genuine excitement from the children. It is clear, there is a very bright future ahead for India, a very important country for the FIFA Foundation.”
Stating that Odisha has become a sports hub and Bhubaneswar a sports capital under the visionary leadership of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, KIIT and KISS Founder Samanta said, “History is being created in the state of Odisha, generally, and especially KIIT and KISS today. We are privileged to be spearheading the FIFA Football for Schools programme in India. We are very grateful to the FIFA President, Youri Djorkaeff and everyone involved in making this possible.”
Among others, R. Vineel Krishna, Secretary, Sports & Youth Services Department; Debashish Samantaray, President – Football Association of Odisha; Asirbad Behera, Secretary; Alexandre Gros, Project Leader, FIFA Football for Schools along with other senior officials of FIFA were present.