Training football coaches in their own neighbourhood or village, so that they can act as trainers and role models in their own local communities. That, in a nutshell, is the main philosophy behind the KNVB WorldCoaches, the international programme launched by the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) in 2009, as part of its commitment to the global football family. The programme is based on the KNVB’s long-standing experience and expertise in coaching and training.
Football connects people, anywhere in the world. WorldCoaches plays its part by inspiring children and guiding them in sports and in their social behaviour. In this way, football and the KNVB contribute to a better society.
"As a WorldCoach you must be aware that you are in charge of changing people’s lives. That’s a big responsibility but also a great opportunity. As an instructor we set the example and influence our coaches. This leads to a ‘snowball effect’: if you can change one coach, you can change a thousand kids." Martha Karimi – Local WorldCoaches instructor in Kenya.
WorldCoaches organise weekly football activities. The venue can be a schoolyard or a small pitch in a neighbourhood. The WorldCoaches coach a team, organise competitions or tournaments and guide the children in their development within their community. These activities not only focus on football, but they also serve to nurture life skills. This is done in a natural and playful way.
Life skills include communication and creative competencies as well as critical thinking, dealing with emotions and solving problems. These are all skills that children learn by playing the game of football and they can apply the same skills in their daily lives. WorldCoaches teach their pupils to make the connection between what they learn in these lessons to situations in their personal lives.
"How can children develop the ability to make their own choices? By confronting them with real-life situations where they need to make these choices. It is a process in which you can facilitate this development, moving from simple situations to more complex situations." Piet de Jong – WorldCoaches instructor.
WorldCoaches can also make a difference by providing information about relevant local themes such as crime, health issues, diversity, and girls’ and women’s rights. Educating people on these subjects can sometimes be challenging. For this reason, WorldCoaches learn what it means to be a role model, how to identify social problems and how to analyse them, open them up for discussion and, if need be, refer them to the local authorities.
This is how WorldCoaches can become social role models for young people within their own local communities. On the one hand, football is a game that attracts children and holds their attention; on the other, it also serves as a playful tool for their social development.