As part of its commitment to developing football around the world, FIFA invited the Technical Directors from every confederation to the Home of FIFA in Zurich last week for a two-day meeting.
Along with a review of FIFA’s new structure, its technical development strategy/philosophy and details about how the Forward Programme will assist in capacity building, different technical development areas were discussed including best practices in grassroots football, coach licensing, women’s football and the role of Technical Directors in their member associations.
FIFA Deputy Secretary General Zvonimir Boban welcomed the group by stressing the tangible benefits of the meeting. “Marco [Van Basten] and I played football on a professional level. Therefore, we were in the spotlight for many years. We joined FIFA to give something back to the game and as the FIFA President has told us both: Being here now, it is your task to bring back football to the centre stage. Growing football at its grassroots is the foundation for that. It’s not always seen, but it’s fundamental.”
Van Basten, who is FIFA’s Chief Officer for Technical Development, laid out the goals for the attendees, saying: “Confederations, and all of your member associations are organized differently, are at a different level regarding technical development and have therefore different needs to drive development further, whether it is for example about grassroots or youth elite football, coach education or women’s football. The objective is to learn from the information that you will share today and tomorrow and to use that know-how to better understand these differences in needs.
“Our joint efforts to grow the game worldwide and to develop the technical aspects of football are most effective if we meet these different needs as tailor-made as possible. Sharing information is helpful to optimise the cooperation and synergy between FIFA, confederations and member associations, required to develop football across the globe in a tailor-made way and starts with creating clarity on the roles we all have in supporting our member associations.”
Over the two days, the importance of competitions to drive development was stressed, as was increasing the professionalization and early involvement in women’s football. Below are reflections from the attendees.
Andy Roxburgh, Technical Director AFC
“FIFA is trying to make sure we coordinate our development structures and see where they can support that work. It’s about raising standards basically. It has been very important to see where we are in relation to the continents and more importantly how we can cooperate. When you’re playing football, it’s about competition, but if you’re talking about education, it’s about cooperation.”
Abdel Moneim Hussein, Director of Development CAF
“Because FIFA does a lot of courses in Africa, it’s important to have close collaboration. Technical development is creating infrastructure, and although the Forward Programme is very large and touches all kinds of areas, FIFA is figuring out what each confederations needs, what the different challenges are. One important topic is the recognition of coaching licenses between the confederations, recognising them all over the world so that you don’t have problems working anywhere.”
Gonzalo Belloso, Director of Development CONMEBOL
“In South America, we have created a programme called Evolución in alignment with FIFA’s Forward Programme, which is an attempt to boost the different categories like women’s football, futsal and beach soccer. We have a rich history of coaches and players, but sometimes we need a better framework to develop them in each member association. We look to UEFA naturally, but we respect all of the confederations and learn from all of them.”
Ioan Lupescu, Technical Director UEFA
“It’s very important that we’re all here together, to see where we are and how we can collaborate better. At UEFA we have a lot of Memorandums of Understanding with different football organisations, but it’s important to work with FIFA not to overlap and be more focused in helping each other. We are also learning from other confederations. Not everything is perfect in Europe, so we are here to hear, to learn and exchange ideas.”
Also in attendance was Jason Roberts, representing CONCACAF as an Ambassador. This meeting was the start of a process for a closer co-operation, communication and coordination between the confederations and FIFA. A constant exchange of information and tailor-made approach for each of the six confederations and their member associations will contribute to improved efficiencies in everybody’s efforts in football development.