With one year to go until the start of the 2008 European Championships in Austria and Switzerland, the EUROSCHOOLS 2008 schools project was launched as part of the “One Year to Go” festivities in Interlaken on June 7. The various Austrian states and the 26 cantons of Switzerland and Liechtenstein were each drawn a UEFA nation.
The event marked the start of a year full of encounters has begun for thousands of school pupils, who will act as ambassadors for the UEFA nations and contest a host of football tournaments played according to special fair play rules.
Self-organised tournaments and supra-regional EUROSCHOOLS CUPS will prepare them for a possible appearance in the international finals, where all 53 UEFA nations will be represented by the “pupil ambassadors” from Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
The individual cup competitions and the finals will take place alongside the EURO 2008 in eight Austrian and Swiss cities. The 4 to 6-a-side teams will be made up of girls and boys aged between 12 and 15.
Fair play and intercultural dialogue are the main themes of the activities that the participating schools will focus on as part of their ambassadorial role. They will be asked to organise a tournament according to the 'Fair Play Football' method and hold a project day on which they will present information on their particular partner country.
The project, which is the official UEFA EURO 2008TM schools project, is being coordinated on the ground by FARE partner FairPlay/vidc in Austria and the Swiss Academy for Development in Switzerland. Overall responsibility lies with the Berlin-based organisation streetfootballworld , which staged the successful World Cup schools project 'World Cup schools. Fair Play for Fair Life' in 2006.
The EUROSCHOOLS 2008 project is being organised with the support of UEFA, the Austrian Federal Chancellery, the initiative '2008 – Austria on the Ball', the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture, the Austrian Football Association, the Swiss government and the Liechtenstein Football Association.
Among the project's prominent patrons are FIFA referee Urs Meier, the Austrian education minister, Claudia Schmied, TV presenter Mirjam Weichselbraun, the president of the Pestalozzi Foundation, Swiss national councillor and Brigitta Gadient.
To see which UEFA nation has been allocated to which area, please visit www.euroschools2008.org.