As the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 wraps up, organizers are looking to the international soccer tournament’s legacy — what FIFA will leave behind, long after the games are done.
It’s all about getting people involved — and keeping them involved, says Annette Wildgoose, director, Legacy and Special Projects, for FIFA’s national organizing committee.
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FIFA and PHE Canada’s resource for teachers is called Move Think Learn.
“It’s about ‘How do we get people even more involved than they are?’” she asks. “How can we leave a legacy for young girls, to stay within the sport and to reach their full potential?”
First, of course, there are the games. The FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015, which ends on July 5, has included teams from 24 countries playing games in Edmonton, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Winnipeg.
Legacy goals are as national as the games themselves, says Wildgoose, noting that more than 850,000 youth are registered in territorial and provincial soccer programs across Canada. “It is the largest summer sport in the country,” she says.
With that in mind, it’s perhaps not surprising to find out that sport development and education are key to FIFA’s legacy success.
Wildgoose says FIFA has partnered with Physical and Health Education Canada to create Move Think Learn — Soccer in Focus, a resource series for teachers of students ages 8 to 14 across Canada.
The program was introduced into physical education curricula across Canada in 2014, and includes lessons about what makes the FIFA Women’s World Cup special, as well as game ideas for getting kids engaged, moving, and learning.
Along the way, kids learn important physical literacy skills, as well as critical decision-making and leadership skills, too.
With the help of this partnership, Wildgoose hopes to reach more than one million children across Canada. “And I think we’ll reach 1.5 million by the time the tournament takes place,” she says.
Also part of FIFA’s legacy program, a five-year project to reduce and prevent soccer injuries is being rolled out in partnership with Public Health Agency Canada. “All coaches in Canada will receive training on injury prevention,” Wildgoose says.
This year, FIFA organizers will also deliver soccer balls to girls and boys in Rankin Inlet as part of the legacy fund. While the gesture may not be a big one in terms of monetary value, it’s about bringing people hope, she says.
“Sport is a conduit for bringing different cultural backgrounds together,” says Wildgoose.
Other FIFA legacy programs include leadership training for young women, whether they go on to become Canada’s future FIFA stars — or not.
“We want to provide the best possible opportunities for young girls to succeed, not just in soccer,” Wildgoose says.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Canada.”