From field to classroom: teaching good citizenship through football
Football is a dominant force for good in the lives of million youth and children worldwide. It has a universal language and it is used as platform for cooperation and action. It is important to use the power of football in a daily life of a child as it could be highly beneficial for the social development of society.
The power of sport goes beyond the sport pitch. Its values can be implemented in schools and homes as a promotion tool of good citizenship, trustworthiness and peace. Therefore, I am convinced that children’s sport programs should include participation of coaches, teachers and parents. Children, who are encouraged by their parents, teachers and coaches to participate in football programs, tend to become more responsible and self-confident young people.
In this respect, the U.S Pont Sainte-Maxence Football Club, located in Picardie, France, has developed a sport program called Chaque Jeune à son plus haut [Each youth at its highest], which involves an active participation of school, football club and family in the development of children. The program dates back to the early 2001 when several regional schools approached the U.S Pont Sainte-Maxence Football Club to talk about the remarkable behavior of club’s children in school. The club proposed to develop a joint educational program with schools that would involve more children. Since then the program has been using the pedagogical framework of sport to educate children 5 to 14 years old how to be enthusiastic and responsible citizens.
Chaque Jeune à son plus haut creates an environment which allows children and youth to reach their full potential on and beyond the football pitch. The program is created to foster cooperation of the Football Club with regional schools (primary schools and colleges) and parents. Each participant assesses the performance of children -in a personalized self-assessment booklet- based on five core values: sociability, mutual aid, autonomy, community life and surpassing oneself. The child also self-assess his/her behavior in the self-assessment booklet.
Each of the five values helps to promote a positive learning environment and culture of peaceful co-habitation in schools, football clubs and home. In addition, the self-assessment booklet measures children’s accomplishments, strengths, and weaknesses, and supports a continuous quality improvement approach. The program values and encourages children who behave in line with the five core values on a daily basis.
This holistic approach aimed at impacting positively to children’s life could transform communities on a long-term basis in a favorable way. I believe that peace is a dynamic social phenomenon that should involve a proactive participation of many actors. Schools, parents, children and sport clubs should gather around sport to build conditions for fair and peaceful world. The universality of football makes it responsible for creating good citizens worldwide.