Grass Roots Set-up around the World – Italy
While the grassroots football system in Italy hasn’t always been widely celebrated, it has begun to earn some international accolades in recent years.
Most recently, the ‘Divisione Calcio Paralimpico e Sperimentale’ has won the Best Disability Initiative at [the UEFA Grassroots Awards in 2020, with this scheme creating the opportunity for thousands of disabled people to play organised football nationwide.
However, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the grassroots setup in Italy, which is fast emerging as one of the best and most generative systems in Europe.
A Look at ‘Tutti in Goal’ – Italy’s Grassroots Legacy
At present, Italy’s standout grassroots scheme is the delightfully named ‘Tutti in Goal’ (‘All in Goal’), which is a pioneering initiative that targets native students aged between 10 and 13.
This collaborative project was launched in 2020, by the Italian Football Association (FIGC) and the education and research ministry (MIUR).
Interestingly, the scheme extends far beyond imparting basic footballing skills, as it also seeks to teach participants things such as communication, management and even the logistics of organising tournaments (we’ll have a little more on this below).
From a technical perspective, the tournament takes the form of a five-a-side tournament, which is initially contested at an inter-school level before progressing through provincial, regional and national matches.
Ultimately, the best two sides will compete in a knockout final for the title of Italian champions, with the competition accessible to both boys and girls within the age range.
The nature of the gameplay lends itself to learning technical football skills, particularly ball control and dribbling. It also places an emphasis on retaining possession and passing within a relatively confined space, which is central to the success of many sides in the modern age.
Teaching Skills Outside of Football
As if this wasn’t enough, the Tutti in Goal initiative also strives to teach youngsters life skills that have merit far beyond the school playing fields.
Firstly, the scheme promotes participation and the development of self-organisation skills, by encouraging kids to help plan match-days and the side’s travel itinerary.
Participants are also taught key communication skills and the fundamental values that underpin grassroots football. More specifically, players learn about values such as integration, inclusion, respect, fair play and commitment, along with the importance of team-building across the board.
By targeting schools directly, the initiative also encourages the involvement of young people in sport, improving the physical and mental wellbeing of participants while aiding the development of crucial social skills.
Participating schools can also benefit too, through the provision of promotional and educational material, while the winning school will be rewarded with funding for the construction of a new, state-of-the-art pitch by the FIGC.
Schools will also be visited by various Italian football legends at some point during the initiative, providing inspiration for kids and highlighting just how popular the scheme is within the game.
This is definitely one of the most innovative and comprehensive grassroots initiatives in football, and one that highlights Italy’s ongoing commitment to developing young talent for the future.
So, the future for Italian football looks incredibly bright, particularly with more investment likely to follow in the near-term.