From the Grassroots: The F4S app is a gamechanger for youth coches

World football governing body FIFA has launched a mobile app as part of its Football for Schools (F4S) program. The global program which targets around 2000 schools in Kenya was launched in Kakamega at the end of July 2023. 

The subsequent FIFA for Schools app is a tool that aims to help educators (coaches) who handle children between the ages of four and 14 years. FKF Head of Technical Department Michael Amenga posted on his socials about the app rollout on Wednesday, August 3. As an educator, parent or young player, here are a few key things you need to know about the tool. 

What is the FIFA Football for Schools App?

The app available on Android and iOS app stores is meant to help educators in coming up with drills, coaching sessions, and evaluating the progress of young learners. It emphasizes FIFa’s values for children’s training, among them teaching life skills, open training (limiting individual contact with children), and elimination and reporting of child abuse. 

Must I be online to use the FIFA Football for Schools App?

No. Downloading the app and registering requires a stable internet connection. Afterwards, educators can use the app offline to organize and implement sessions. 

Michael Amenga arrives for the FIFA Football for Schools launch
FKF TD Michael Amenga says of the F4S app: Building a solid foundation for a better future | Photo courtesy: FKF Media

Who can use the FIFA Football for Schools app? 

The app is available to educators (end users). There is a complementary tool called the Learning Platform. This is available to other stakeholders like schools, member associations, and government authorities.

Must I be in a school setup to use the F4S App?

No. Anyone can download the app. However, during registration, you will be asked to input the name of a school where you educate/coach. There is no verification from the school needed, so it appears that step can be bypassed.

However, you need a school set-up to benefit from the F4S program. Your school should apply for consideration by the authorities who will select beneficiaries, among them the Ministry of Education and the Football Kenya Federation. The application process is outlined in the app’s FAQ section. 

Must I be a teacher to be involved in the F4S program?

No such requirement appears on the F4S app terms. In any case, many institutions have football educators who are not classroom teachers.

What are the benefits of using the App/Program?

The app is described as a plug-and-play tool. Therefore, it helps educators in planning and implementing training models. Also, racking players’ progress becomes more manageable. The educator builds their portfolio too. This can be used as a reference tool in their resume. 

Also, other stakeholders can keep tabs on the progress of earmarked players, making it easy to carry out football business in the future. Also, participating schools benefit from training equipment, mostly balls. 

A Welcome Approach to Football Talent Nurturing

The recently launched program, if well implemented, is a genius move in nurturing football talent in the country. As stated in the program’s notes, kids spend most of their time in school. It is only logical to take football education to them there. It also makes learning more palatable for many kids.

Moreover, stakeholders view it as an effective way to curb the notorious vice of age cheating in the medium and long term. While it will help in nabbing cheats, I feel that eliminating the need to teach is the greater benefit. One of the reasons for age-cheating is late bloom – players hitting their peak for an age group when they’re already past it. If players are nurtured and tracked from as early as four years of age, they will already have developed wings and flown to higher levels by the time the need to cheat arises. 

The only pessimistic feature of the program is the one-off $50,000 (KES 7.1 million) payment offered by FIFA to FKF to run the program. This is too little to make a huge impact. Hopefully, there will be transparency and accountability and the government will inject more money to boost the program. But hope is often an unreliable fuel to run on.

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