The winners of the FIFA/CIES International University Network Award had the opportunity to visit the Home of Football on Thursday 14 September to receive their diplomas for six months of hard work from FIFA Senior Football Expert – and former Swiss international Goalkeeper - Pascal Zuberbühler.
Four students from the Universidad de Costa Rica (Carlos Brenes Soto, Shirley Cruz Traña, Lixy Rodríguez Zamora and Carol Sánchez Cruz) were rewarded for their group project on a SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – on the Costa Rican women’s first division, to ensure that women's football is not a short-term phenomenon but has a sustainable future in their country.
A second group, representing the Universidad Santo Tomás de Santiago (Chile) was made up of Gastón Ibáñez Rojas, Joaquín Cárdenas Kaechele, Gissele Toro Santibáñez, and Sebastián Alvear Alfaro. Their project “Juega Reciclando Foundation” aims to create a non-profit entity to recycle surgical masks as used during the COVID crisis, in order to produce sports surfaces and other floors.
The projects, conceived as part of the FIFA/CIES International Programme in Sports Management, were selected from works submitted by the 19 universities comprising the FIFA/CIES International University Network in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Asia and Europe.
To win their projects had to meet certain criteria including to be of interest for sport and football at national, regional and local level ; originality and creativity ; quality of conclusions and recommendations ; practicability and feasibility.
For Joaquín Cárdenas Kaechele, the FIFA/CIES International Programme is a way of learning about and integrating with the world of sport. The group work carried out with his classmates is designed to help ensure that sport - and high-performance sport in particular - is better able to address the critical issues of the environment and sustainability in Chile and South America.
During their stay in Switzerland, both groups took the unique opportunity to visit some of the world's leading sporting centres, such as the Olympic Museum and Home of FIFA in Zürich, to discuss a wide range of current sporting issues.
After Pascal Zuberbühler presented them with their diplomas in a convivial atmosphere, the participants were taken on a tour of the building before meeting Arsène Wenger, FIFA Chief of Global Football Development.
Shirley Cruz Traña - who in a playing career represented her national team more than 100 times, as well as club spells in the USA, China and France and her homeland - summed up the participants' feelings.
"It has been a fabulous experience. Taking part in the FIFA/CIES Programme; getting three players from the national women's football team and a lawyer around a table to develop a project aimed at the development of our sport in Costa Rica; coming to Switzerland; meeting our Chilean friends; discovering other cultures and visiting FIFA. I have already so many wonderful memories” she said.
Congratulations to the winners, and we wish them, and their projects, the very best for the future.