Riding the World Cup Wave
Soccer Balls Donated to German Schoolchildren
TWIG - After the phenomenal success of the World Cup in Germany, the nation’s soccer league is promoting the sport among some of its most enthusiastic fans - grade-schoolers.
Kids in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia will be the first to benefit from a new national public outreach initiative by the Deutscher Fussball-Bund (DFB), or German Football Association.
The DFB has pledged to give elementary schools across North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, brand new soccer balls before Christmas. The basic idea is to build upon the wave of enthusiasm for the sport following the World Cup games last spring, and to inspire kids to play the "beautiful game". As in many other industrialized countries, childhood obesity has been on the rise in Germany and the soccer ball donation drive also aims at getting kids moving again while having fun in the fresh air.
The DFB, in cooperation with the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, will deliver about 100,000 soccer balls and tens of thousands of soccer jerseys to each of the state’s 3,426 elementary schools. By next year, routine soccer classes are supposed to take place as part of all school curricula in the state as well as outside of regular school hours. "We want to give pupils the possibility to exercise their natural desire for movement," Barbara Sommer, the state’s education minister, said in announcing the initiative in mid-October.
Detlev Polt, principal of the Gemeinschaftsgrundschule
Deutzer Straße, an elementary school in the state capital of Düsseldorf,
said he has dreamed of offering more intensive soccer classes at his school
for years. "This will finally be possible through the initiative of the
education ministry and the DFB. I’m really excited about that," he said.
More girls interested in soccer after World Cup
The World Cup has made kids more interested in soccer again, including girls, he added. "(It) has really created momentum, especially among girls. Maybe this will also help many female teachers loose their shyness about teaching soccer," he said.
To get teachers more involved in coaching soccer at elementary schools, part of the DFB’s new public outreach program will include additional training and support for school staff.
And North Rhine-Westphalia is only the first of Germany’s 16
states to benefit from the DFB offer - its "Schulfußball-Offensive", or
"soccer school offensive", is due to sweep the nation. Soccer officials at
the DFB meanwhile are hoping to cultivate young new soccer talent through
Americans love soccer too!
The World Cup is the most prestigious international soccer competition. It is played every four years, and is also the most widely viewed and famous sporting event in the world, watched by twice as many people as the Summer Olympics. In the United States, soccer is popular with both boys and girls across the country. The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team has won many international titles: In 1996, the American women won the first Olympic soccer gold medal, and topped themselves by winning the women’s World Cup in 1999.
The 2006 World Cup drew thousands of visitors to Germany last June and July. Games were played by teams from all over the world in major cities including Berlin, the German capital, Munich, Frankfurt, Cologne, Stuttgart and Hamburg.
Perhaps some of the free soccer balls being sent by the DFB
to grade schools across Germany will end up being kicked around by one of
the nation’s future soccer stars?
Links:German Football Association (DFB) U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame American Soccer History Timeline
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