6 February 2020 – FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development Arsène Wenger has announced the launch of a groundbreaking talent development programme that will enable member associations to optimise their technical structures, establish sustainable and long-term scouting schemes and, ultimately, reduce the gap at the top of the game.
Also present at the launch was Serame Letsoaka, former SAFA and Botswana Technical Director – who has now been appointed by FIFA as a Technical Consultant for the South and East African regions, becoming the first South African to hold such a position.
He takes the place of Govinden Thondoo – he will provide support to Fifa member associations in the following 20 South and East African countries: Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“We are launching the FIFA Talent Development Programme to ensure that every talent gets a chance. That goal is very ambitious but we are highly motivated and focused. Nowadays, information can be made available and used all over the world within seconds. It’s a huge chance,” said Wenger during a five-day FIFA Technical Development Workshop in Doha with the participation of over 100 experts from confederations and member associations.
“The difference in the level of play between Europe and the rest of the world has become bigger. In many countries, the focus of the association is mainly on the senior national team, but this national team is always the consequence of football development across the country. We need more youth competitions to identify talent, offer them a pathway and develop coaching,” added Wenger.
Through FIFA’s new Talent Development Programme, from this year, all 211 member associations will be entitled to benefit from a FIFA assessment of the various areas of their high-performance ecosystem in both men’s and women’s football, including all national teams, domestic leagues, scouting projects and academies.
Following the assessment performed by FIFA’s experts, a report will be produced for each of the member associations involved, thus benchmarking their technical ecosystem against global standards. Based on the reports, FIFA will implement tailor-made technical programmes in cooperation with the member associations from 2021.
“Sustainable development is a long-term approach and requires dedication, confidence and patience. Within the next six to eight months, we will have a good overview of what is needed everywhere in both men’s and women’s football, and then we will respond both online and offline with a team of experts to help develop football to the highest level and to have a lasting impact,” concluded Wenger.
Further pillars of FIFA’s technical development programme are:
1) Development of home-grown coach-educators through:
Regional coach-educator courses
Member associations’ coach-educator courses
2) Development of technical directors through:
Courses and workshops
3) Additional tailor-made courses for:
Futsal and beach soccer
April Heinrichs (high-performance expert and former coach of the US women’s national team) said:
“The FIFA Talent Development Programme is going to be impactful because it’s a really targeted project. First, we will spend the year analysing, observing, watching and listening to all the associations to see what their strengths and challenges are. Then we’ll bring this wealth of information together and make recommendations. This will be the end of the analysis and the start of action.”
Steve McClaren (high-performance expert and former coach of the England national team) said: “Developing talent is based on three key things: finding the talent, creating an environment in which the footballer can flourish and, most importantly, coaching. With the FIFA Talent Development Programme, we will know exactly what each country is doing in terms of developing their players. Research, yes. Analysis, yes. Results, of course. And then feeding back to the nations to help them grow and improve their level of play.”