Football provides new prospects for Estonian children

For the second year in a row, the NGO SPIN has received a UEFA Foundation for Children Award on a recommendation from the Estonian Football Association.

During a trip to Tallinn, we received a warm welcome from the CEO of SPIN, Keit Fomotškin. “It means a lot to us to receive a UEFA Foundation for Children Award,” he said. “Recognition from outside Estonia is very important for our team of coaches who work with the kids every day. The award will enable us to expand our programme and involve more participants.”

The youngsters who attend the SPIN-programme come from difficult social backgrounds and have been identified in collaboration with social workers, local authorities and schools.

SPIN believes in the potential of every child to become a good citizen. By playing football in a safe and motivating environment, youngsters learn the positive values of team sport that can be replicated in everyday life. The programme aims to combat youth criminality, lower school dropout rates and increase the number of young people in skilled labour, while providing them with alternative ways to spend their time.

Three times a week, the children meet for a 90-minute training session under the guidance of professional football coaches and assistant coaches. These sessions focus on sports and different skills needed in life and are intended to give them a better knowledge of social values and develop their social behaviour in parallel to their performance in sport. They also develop social skills, such as effective communication, conflict resolution and setting personal goals.

Assistant coach Laura Karpova usually trains the girls. “Women’s football is not very popular in Estonia,” she said. “The SPIN-programme is flexible and we also focus on other activities to reach our goals with girls. For example, they like drawing.”

Angelina (17) and Inna (15) are two active programme participants, both of whom love football and like getting together with their teammates. Angelina in particular really likes the team spirit in the programme. Sometimes she gets to be captain. She likes playing tournaments and is motivated to win.

The children’s development is assessed by measuring their rate of participation and discipline in the activities, as surveyed by the coaches, as well as their grades and behaviour at school.

After the first year, the programme’s impact speaks for itself:

  • 8% improvement in their school results
  • 6% improvement in their behaviour at school
  • 19% improvement in activity, participation and discipline
  • 18% decrease in readiness to engage in risk behaviour
  • 12% improvement in self-control
  • 95% of the participants rate the programme as either good or excellent

 

Thanks to the foundation’s support, the programme was launched in Tartu. Furthermore, it has helped make reaching target group children more effective. The funding also covers equipment and materials and the summer camp in 2018.

SPIN currently involves over 250 active participants aged 10 to 18 – 83% boys and 17% girls. The programme partners 45 different schools in the Estonian municipalities of Tallinn, Tartu, Rakvere, Kohtla-Järve and Narva.