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Mar 5, 2013

Laos Football Federation and JICA to bring grassroots festivals to 5 Lao provinces


To commemorate the 40th anniversary of friendship and cooperation between Japan and ASEAN, the Lao Football Federation (LFF) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are collaborating to bring grassroots festivals to 5 provinces in Laos.
The ‘LFF Grassroots Football for All’ project, which will be implemented across 5 weekends from February to April, aims to bring grassroots football to Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Khammouane, Savanakhet and Champasack. The objectives of the festivals are to allow children to learn basic football techniques and to give beginner coaches the skills required to teach youths football. A health component will also be incorporated in the programme, touching on basic injury prevention and treatment techniques.
JICA, an Official Development Assistance (ODA) executing agency of the government of Japan, has agreed to support the LFF in this iconic development and sponsor the federation with 300,000,000Kip (37,500 USD).
JICA believes that the friendship and spirit of cooperation between Japan and Laos can be further strengthened through football. In 2012, as part of its Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCVs) programme, the organisation sent a Japanese national Kei Honma to volunteer with the federation as a national youth team coach for a period of 2 years spanning 2012-2013.
A press conference to launch the ‘LFF Grassroots Football for All” project was held at the National Stadium on February 16. Present at the event were Deputy Minister for Education and Sports Mr Boualane Siripanya, Japanese Ambassador to Laos Ms Junko Yokota, Lao Football Federation President Mr Viphet Sihachakr, JICA Chief Representative Dr Masato Togawa, and Japan Football Association (JFA) board member and JICA Official Mr Tsuyoshi Kitazawa.
“Football, being the most popular sport in Laos, can play an important role in the healthy development of Lao youths, who are expected to contribute to the development of the country in the future,” said JICA Chief Representative Dr Masato Togawa at the press conference.
The press conference was followed by a grassroots festival lead by LFF's Technical Director Mr Kiyoshi Sekiguchi and attended by 200 children aged 6-12 and 50 beginner coaches.
Sharing valuable tips with participants was Mr Tsuyoshi Kitazawa, who earlier attended the press conference. A former Japanese national football star player, Mr Kitazawa strongly believes in football as a great educator and said, “Not only does football promote a healthy lifestyle, it also teaches children about the importance of teamwork and doing one’s best.”

The ‘LFF Grassroots Football for All’ project is in line with the federation’s 5-year strategic plan to set a pathway for grassroots football to integrate into LFF youth football competitions and to increase the number boys and girls playing football.

“Today’s juniors are the future of football, which is why we must provide for optimal conditions under which these young people can mature. This partnership with JICA will not only reach out to youths across Laos, but set the pace for other organisations to come forward and collaborate with LFF to allow more children and youths to enjoy the benefits of the beautiful game,” said LFF President Mr Viphet Sihachakr.
2013 marks the beginning of grassroots football in Laos, and LFF looks forward to working closely with FIFA, the AFC, AFF and other local and international organisations to further develop football in the region.

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