• FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development Arsène Wenger: “Programme is aimed at giving every talent a chance”
  • Thorough analysis of each member association’s football ecosystem
  • World-leading experts to implement the programme

Mumbai: Over 200 member associations across all confederations have signed up for FIFA’s first-ever Talent Development Programme, setting a new benchmark for initiatives created by world football’s governing body in the area. The list comprises, among many others, the current men’s and women’s world champions, France and the USA respectively, as well as member associations (MAs) that have never qualified for a FIFA tournament.

Launched in January 2020 by FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development Arsène Wenger, the programme aims to provide member associations with a thorough analysis of their high performance ecosystem in both men’s and women’s football, including all national teams, domestic leagues, scouting projects and academies, in order to ensure that every talented player gets a chance to reach their potential.

Arsène Wenger said, “The whole world has signed up for the FIFA Talent Development Programme. We are very proud of the high number of participants and the trust that all member associations have given us. With trust comes responsibility, though: we have to be swift, helpful, knowledgeable and efficient,”

“The success of the programme will be based on good communication and a precise analysis of the needs of every member association so that we can deliver a report and provide tailor-made support. We also want to create opportunities, for example through best practice models, in which member associations can learn from each other and have the possibility to think outside of the box and their own environment,” he added.

As health remains the main priority in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, online tools are set to play a key role in the implementation of the Talent Development Programme.

FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development Arsène Wenger

A group of 30 FIFA experts, including former USA women’s national team coach April Heinrichs, ex-England manager Steve McClaren and former Premier League Director of Football Development Ged Roddy, have been replacing their on-site visits with remote assessments and – based on online surveys and interviews – will produce a report for each of the member associations, thus mapping their technical ecosystems.

“Thanks to technology, football can stay united despite the distance. We have received positive feedback from the member associations, as they are eager to start. Football has a huge educational responsibility. The FIFA Talent Development Programme is aimed at giving a chance to every child in the world who wants to play football and help him or her to improve and experience positive emotions. I hope the programme can help children to become top-level players, or if not, at least give them the opportunity to follow their dreams and play the game that they love,” concluded Wenger.

In 2021, FIFA will focus on the implementation of tailor-made technical programmes for each member association with a view to tackling potential challenges and maximising the comparative advantages that each association possesses.

James Johnson, Chief Executive Officer, Football Federation Australia (FFA)

“FFA is eager to engage with FIFA, its experts and other member associations from across the globe via the new FIFA Talent Development Programme – an initiative which draws a timely parallel to some of the important work currently being undertaken by FFA.  

“In our recently released ‘XI Principles for the Future of Australian Football’ discussion paper, we highlight our focus on youth development, player pathways, competition structures, and underscore our ambition to create world-class environments for coach development in our nation.  

“In time, FIFA’s new Talent Development Programme will enable us to access a dedicated technical report for Australia, which will be benchmarked against the other member associations involved in the programme. This will add to the information available to our technical and management staff, helping us to make more informed decisions on a local level that can prospectively assist us in the future on the global stage.”

Patrice Flaccadori, Technical Director, Tahiti Football Association (FTF)

“This programme is extremely important for the Tahitian Football Association because it will help bring greater professionalism to our members.

“Given our particular situation (geographical location, demographics, level of development, and so on), our association needs to assess all of its programmes every year, especially the way our elite performance programmes are organised.

“The various questionnaires being provided will enable us to see where things stand and to measure the gap between the initial situation, the objectives identified and the end result.

“They will also help trigger ideas and new lines of thinking on how to develop structures, such as the importance of drawing up a development plan, of monitoring players using longitudinal data, of organising delegations (mission sheets), of planning and/or scheduling, etc.

“To sum up, the programme is relevant because it will help us from a structural point of view.”

Roberto Martínez, Head Coach and Technical Director, Belgian Football Association (RBFA)

“As an association, we have always encouraged being open and sharing at every level of the game. We have good experiences of sharing projects internally within Belgium football, and we know first-hand the benefits in doing so and linking different projects throughout amateur, professional and player development. That’s why we are so excited with FIFA’s initiative, which could have unprecedented results for the world of football. This initiative will interlink all the football associations around the world, and could set out a new future for the game, leaving no talent untouched.”

Lucía Mijares Martínez, Sports Development Director, Mexican Football Association (FMF)

“The FIFA Talent Development Programme is such a powerful initiative to help us understand where we are as MAs in terms of talent nationally, and will help us identify how we can continue to grow and evolve in order to reach our development, sporting and strategic goals as a football nation. This includes boosting our competitions as well as our coaching and player development, aiming to give a chance to every talented player.”

Etienne Sockeng, Deputy Technical Director, Cameroonian Football Association (FECAFOOT)

“This programme enables us to improve the way we play football and fight against the loss of talent. Since May 2020, we have been working with the FIFA experts on several modules, such as the training structures for young players and our talent retention technology to limit the margin of error and guarantee a chance for every boy and girl to play and move forward.”

Diogo Netto, Social Responsibility and Sustainability Manager, Brazilian Football Association (CBF)

“It is a great honour for the Brazilian Football Association to participate in this FIFA programme.

“The CBF is always attentive to important matters raised by FIFA and is fully committed to investing in developing Brazilian football on an equal basis between men and women. We are involved in various areas and activities, such as educating professionals, grassroots football, competitions, national teams, social responsibility programmes and others.

“The CBF is fully aware of the importance of the role it plays in the country’s society. Therefore, the analysis of the Brazilian football ecosystem will give us a foundation on which to maintain our talent development legacy in football.”