UEFA has underlined its commitment to grassroots football and the importance that the game's foundations have for its longevity by assembling its communities from around Europe for the latest Grassroots Conference in Minsk.
Grassroots managers and coach education specialists from UEFA's 55 member associations, as well as representatives from FIFA, will meet in Belarus for an in-depth analysis of the current state of the grassroots sector.
During his welcome message at the Minsk conference, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin reiterated the governing body's commitment to grassroots visions and activities.
"Grassroots football is of the utmost importance," Čeferin said. "The slogan 'Football First' is at the core of UEFA's strategy for the coming years – and without healthy grassroots, the game cannot flourish."
Frank Ludolph, UEFA's head of football education services, summed up UEFA's stance on the grassroots game and its position in football.
He added: "[The role of] grassroots football is to ensure that everybody, everywhere, has the opportunity to play football in a safe and quality-controlled environment.
"Grassroots football is about creating a solid foundation for the game; producing playing opportunities; ensuring respect and equality; uniting people and transcending differences; serving as a vehicle for educational, social and sporting development – and promoting lifelong participation. It plays a crucial social role, and promotes healthy exercise."
UEFA also released a list of golden rules that are key in getting children to enjoy football and other sports, including being child centred, being holistic and inclusive, and use competition in a developmental way.
Kris Van Der Haegen, coach education director at the Royal Belgian Football Association, said: “The main ingredient for a coach is to understand that their job is take and guide children on a journey over time – a journey of learning, discovery and enjoyment. But remember that the destination is up to them."