FIFA talent development programme launches

FIFA talent development programme launches

24 May 2020, 10:30
FIFA and the Kazakhstan Football Federation have started to implement a groundbreaking talent development programme.

As a prologue to our country's joining a unique project, a video conference was held by the heads of the KFF Technical Center and senior FIFA experts.

The thematic forum implied detailing the ''Talent Development - Football Ecosystem Analysis'', a programme of support for national associations which is currently being launched.

The online conference was hosted by FIFA Manager Raimondas Statkevicius and FIFA expert Edvinas Eimontas. Our country was represented by the director of the KFF Technical Center, Ivan Azovsky, and Deputy Director Aset Bazekov.

“The goal of the project is to create the most favorable conditions for the identification and development of talented pupils of football schools. As the name of the presented programme suggests, first we have to study Kazakhstani football as a kind of ecosystem and develop a thorough understanding of its infrastructure in terms of identifying and ensuring the growth of their skills. We strictly practice an individual approach in cooperation with each national association. In different countries, sometimes there are similar, and sometimes different, reasons leading to the loss of promising players. We intend to minimize this, avoiding the same approach,” said Edvinas Eimontas, a senior FIFA expert.

The leader of the programme is the world-famous coach, and now a functionary of the International Federation of Football Associations, Arsene Wenger. Some time ago, a specialist, who rightfully earned a reputation as a master, headed the FIFA global football development department.

“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. 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. The difference in the level of play between Europe and the rest of the world has become bigger. We need more youth competitions to identify talent, offer them a pathway and develop coaching,” said Arsene Wenger, FIFA Football Development Manager.

Along with Raimondas Statkevicius, Edvinas Eimontas and other specialists, Arsene Wenger’s colleagues in the implementation of the Talent Development - Football Ecosystem Analysis programme are high-performance experts such as April Heinrichs, who was also a former coach of the US women’s national team, and former coach of the England national team, Steve McLaren.

“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,” said April Heinrichs.

“After assessing the situation in national associations, FIFA experts will prepare an analytical report that will allow us to compare with successful international standards. Then a specialized map of cooperation between the parties will be formed. Sustainability and a long-term approach, which means patience in anticipation of results, have been adopted as the main principles for creating this guide. I emphasize that the programme is designed for use in both men's and women's football. A set of recommendations on organizing the modern development of young talents will be tied to the local socio-political reality, mentality and, of course, the state of national football,” explained Raimondas Statkevicius, FIFA senior expert.

“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,” said Steve McLaren, FIFA senior expert.

“FIFA implements the presented program in partnership with the worldwide and well-known company Double Pass. The latter is actively involved in evaluating and advising football clubs, national federations and professional leagues. Work, according to Double Pass recommendations, is considered a kind of international quality mark, including in the formation of optimal ways of developing young talents. Now, national associations, including the Kazakhstan Football Federation, have been instructed to select 13 schools of reserve for participation in the programme. In Kazakhstan, a fairly successful club football center, academy, or, say, advanced private school, can serve as an excellent field for this. Double Pass will conduct a thorough analysis of their work. Then, indicators will be identified for identifying and developing talented young players,” concluded Raimondas Statkevicius, FIFA senior expert.

“Three out of thirteen Kazakhstani football schools delegated to the analysis will have the opportunity to introduce Double Pass development systems in an in-depth manner. FIFA experts will familiarize themselves in detail with the training process practiced in reserve schools, which are among the top three. Up to a thorough study of the provided video material from training and other practical exercises. After the end of the analytical phase, all thirteen project participants will be offered assistance in creating their own talent identification and development program, as well as specific ways to implement it,” said Ivan Azovsky, director of the KFF Technical Center.

According to the official FIFA circulars, the Talent Development - Football Ecosystem Analysis programme participants will include carefully selected schools of reserve that meet the following key criteria:

- Permanent or long-term rental sports facilities used during training processes;

- Largest number of players called to various youth national teams of Kazakhstan;

- At least three different age groups, one of which must be not older than 17 years;

- At least three full-time coaches;

- A director uninvolved in other clubs and other duties; 

- Regular participation in official championships and cup youth competitions held by the national association.

“The guarantor of a fair selection of Kazakhstan participants in the Talent Development - Football Ecosystem Analysis programme is the Kazakhstan Football Federation. In the process of determining them, authoritative experts of the Technical Center and the KFF Grassroots, Youth and Women's Football Department will be involved. On behalf of the Kazakhstani football community, I want to thank FIFA for the stable support of the tournament and educational and methodological and other projects that we are implementing. The innovative content development programme for young talents is perceived by us as a step taken by FIFA to timely modernize the processes of raising the reserve,” said Adilbek Jaxybekov, President of the Kazakhstan Football Federation.

“The head of the project, FIFA's Global Development Director, Arsene Wenger, along with other achievements, is known as a brilliant mentor for individual work with players including representatives of talented youth. The concept of the proposed programme echoes the academic experience of this, of course, authoritative specialist. This fact gives us particular confidence in the successful implementation of the project, which includes both an exclusive approach for each country and a planetary scale,” said Azamat Aitkhozhin, General Secretary of the Kazakhstan Football Federation.