A Football for Schools Programme, jointly organized by the ministries of education, and health and sports, was inaugurated by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the Thuwunna Artificial Turf Grounds in Yangon.
Union ministers, Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein, Yangon Region Hluttaw Speaker, members of the Yangon Region cabinet, and representatives of the FIFA, AFC, AFF and Myanmar Football Federation, teachers and students attended the opening ceremony.
First, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi unveiled the Football for Schools Programme. The Union ministers, the Yangon Region Chief Minister, Yangon Region Hluttaw Speaker, members of the Yangon Region Cabinet and representatives of the football federations kicked off footballs to open the ceremony. Afterwards, the State Counsellor posed for the documentary photo together with the schoolchildren and disabled athletes.
Following the ceremony, the State Counsellor and officials viewed record of football activities displayed at the regional and state booths. Next, they signed their signatures on the footballs to mark the Football for Schools Programme.
Afterwards, the State Counsellor and party enjoyed the performance of Life & Dance Group and watched the Football for Nation video clip. Afterwards, President of the Myanmar Football Federation U Zaw Zaw detailed about the Football for Schools Programme, and Mr Youri Ram Djaorkaeff, CEO of the FIFA Foundation made a key note remark.
Next, Myanmar Junior Creative troupe, which took part in the American Got Talent, performed their shadow dance.
After the performance, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi delivered an address.
Speech Delivered by the State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
May I say, Mingalabar to you. I am of the opinion that we should all work together not only to promote the football sports in our schools but also the morale of our students. Learning doesn’t end with studying within the four walls of the classroom, but it aims at creating a man, everybody, almost to the perfection. Studying doesn’t make a perfect man. Sports also plays an important role. As you all know, among various sports and games, football is the most popular sports in our country. Why should we give support to this sport? Because sports develop us both physically and mentally. Especially, when you play football, you need to be both physically and mentally strong. The spirit of collaboration and cooperation is very important. All the players must cooperate so that they can win victory. All must pay respect to each individual strength. You can’t survive with your own talent alone. That’s why we give support to this sport. I believe we can develop the morale of our youths.
As U Zaw Zaw has said in his presentation, the video clip shows how the children’s morale can be developed. For example, to stop getting addicted to the computer games, to give up the bad habits of smoking and drugs, the importance of sports is highlighted here. In our schools, there are a variety of sports and games, what attracts many kids is football. Maybe, it’s the most favourite.
This doesn’t mean this sport is meant only for boys. Girls also like it. I am very proud of our girls who can play this sport very well. I had a few minutes to talk to the coaches and experts who have come all the way to develop the skills of the sports, the teams and our players. And I put a question to them: What is the strength of our football players? And what is the weakness? They replied, It’s the stamina that’s their weakness. Of course, we already know that. I often talk about this point with U Zaw Zaw because our young people have not been brought up with sufficient nutrients, and as they grow up, at the age of twelve, whatever diet they are fed with, they are different players lacking stamina, if compared with those who have had an opportunity to eat nutrient food. There’s the weakness of our children.
Well, then what is the next weakness? A coach says we need many coaches. I think we can fulfil this need. But how can the coach give training to the young players who lacked enough nutrients when they were young? The coach, now engaged in giving trainings, told me that the strong point of our young player is the morale. So out young players may be weak in one aspect while we need to fulfil more on the other side. We also held discussions over the aspect of morale.
What made me recall was a journalist’s interview with a marathon runner, a gold medalist in the Olympic Games: You know you are given credit for what? While others were losing stamina before reaching the finishing line, you made use of every ounce of energy and made a race. As far as I understand, normally, when a runner is getting close to the finishing, the lungs are getting painful intolerably. So how did you train yourself to overcome that pain?” The gold medalist replied, How would I overcome the pain? No way. Train yourself so that you get used to that pain.”
That’s the right attitude we all should adopt. That’s the way we should train our young players. Because it’s too late for them to be fed with nutrients for some better effects, we may feed them with nutrients, and at the same time, we must nurture them. To nurture their morale is very important.
I’d like all parents and coaches and authorities concerned to make contributions for that. Some parents do not realize the values of sports and games. Some think going to school is just for study, not to play. We need to change this kind of attitude. Schooling is making a perfect citizen. That’s what we mean by ‘education’. To make a perfect citizen, what can we do so as to develop all round development for serving the world? There’s sports that is a sort of tool that can nurture our valuable children.
I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all those involved to make a success to the Football for Schools Programme. I am grateful to FIFA, Asian Football Confederation and ASEAN Football Federation. I also thank the President of Myanmar Football Federation U Zaw Zaw for making this programme a success. You all have come together and worked together to hold this programme.
Especially, I would like to say thanks to our esteemed special guests from FIFA because you gave me promise when we met in Bangkok that you would come to Myanmar and that Myanmar must be the first country where the Football for Schools Programme is first launched. One month late, but I do forgive you. Any way I am grateful to you because what I value most is keeping promise. Keeping a promise is building trust between two persons, the trust between the one who makes a promise and the other who accepts that promise. Whatever we do, whatever business we do, if we want to succeed, trust among the partners is very important. So I said I am grateful to you.
Secondly, you came and did your best to make it a success. That’s why I think the Football for Schools Programme will be a success. One coach told me, one problem is the time constraint. No sufficient time for the training for the school children. Well, our school children also have to learn according to the school curriculum and complete the course. We have to give time for them in other matters such as morale and morality. I replied, we will negotiate with the Ministry of Education to make it a success because it is a must. If it is not applicable to all schools, it should be tried out in some schools, and we shall see to what extent we did it.
Playing football is something more important than what I’ve just said in the case of our country. Our country is the Union composed of various national races speaking various languages. Accordingly, there must be mutual understanding among us, and the spirit of discrimination must find no room here. Playing football can nurture such spirit of unity through cooperation and collaboration. A good footballer is viewed by people as a good athlete, with no tinge of discrimination over what nationality he or she is or what language he or she speaks or what religion he or she professes. Besides, every athlete has his or her own strength, as well as weakness. This he or she has already found out when young. Then he or she will pay respect to other people. There will be no room for the egoistic attitude like “I am the only one who is the best.” A player may play best as an striker, but he can’t be a good goal keeper. Then he will accept his weakness. So this kind of spirit that develops the morale is very important for the Union that is composed of various nationalities.
This kind of sport will promote not only the morale of the players, but as U Zaw Zaw said, also the spirit of the spectators. We must accept whether it is a victory or a defeat. I always stress that we should adopt the attitude of composing ourselves as the winners while we should accept our defeat with grace. As long as we can’t bear this, either winning or losing the match, there can’t be progress in our life. It’s no good to pick up a fight if we lose, or show our haughty fists when we win the match. That’s not the good sporting spirit. So not only the players but also the audience must value this sporting spirit and get themselves accustomed to that.
In our country we shall hold many football matches, and we shall see how our people have proved their sporting spirit. I believe our people will be our source of strength. So our government will do our best to give support to the success of the Football for Schools Programme, and I’d request you all to make your contributions, too. I’d request not only the players but also teachers and parents, as well as our people, to make your contributions to this programme.
Following her address, Mr Youri Ram Djaorkaeff, Mr Colin Raymond Gibson of Asian Football Confederation, Maj-Gen Khiev Sameth of the Asean Football Federation exchanged their commemorative gifts.
Afterwards, President of MFF U Zaw Zaw donated 10,000 footballs to schools through State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Union Minister Dr Myo Thein Gyi.
Present at the ceremony were by Union Minister for the Office of the Union Government U Min Thu, Union Minister for Education Dr Myo Thein Gyi, Union Minister for Health and Sports Dr Myint Htwe, Chief Minister for Yangon Region U Phyo Min Thein, Yangon Region Hluttaw Speaker U Tin Maung Tun, members of the Yangon Region Cabinet, MPs, representatives of the FIFA, Asian Football Federation, ASEAN Football Confederation and Myanmar Football Federation, teachers and schoolchildren.—MNA (Translated by Dr Zaw Tun)