More than one hundred FIFA member associations have so far applied to benefit from the FIFA Talent Development Scheme (TDS), as the end of the current application window for this ground-breaking initiative approaches.
The TDS aims to help member associations reach their full potential by raising the standards of talent development around the world. The scheme will focus on improving high performance standards, creating the best environments for young players to thrive and helping young talents make the transition to professional football.
The ultimate goal is to bridge the competitive gap and increase the number of national teams capable of playing at the highest level, part of FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s Vision 2020-23.
The current window for applications ends on June 30, and so far, 117 of FIFA’s 211 member associations have applied, ranging from former world champions Germany and Argentina, to smaller members such as Guam and Barbados.
“TDS is a key way to have an impact on the technical development of football in the world,” said FIFA’s Technical Director Steven Martens. “FIFA’s goal is, yes, to organise competitions; yes, to be a good governor of the game. But it’s also to use knowledge to really make football better, [to have it] played by more people but also played at a better level, because higher-quality games, more competitive games, are interesting for football fans.”
FIFA has brought together a team of youth development specialists from across the globe, working together with FIFA’s Regional Technical Consultants (RTCs), to run the project and give tailored advice to member associations which enter the scheme.
Tony Readings, RTC for Oceania, said it could change the face of football in a region where talent development faces a host of logistical challenges.
“I think that the TDS could actually be a game changer for our region in so many ways in terms of supporting competitions, to be the best they can be, so that there is that aspirational impact in each country,” he said. “Helping to put training programmes together, capacity building to get the coaches to be at that advanced level; putting programmes in place to make sure the players are given the opportunity to realise their potential as well.”
FIFA began by analysing talent development worldwide and producing detailed reports on the situation in 205 MAs who were invited to apply to take part in the TDS.
Kelly Cross, a High-Performance Specialist working in Asia, said it could provide the push that some Asian MAs need to reach the highest level.
”I think there’s huge potential in Asia, and there are countries already on the fringe of that top level, who could go all the way. I think there’s tremendous potential in the countries that I’ve certainly experienced and analysed as part of this project,” he said.
Thailand´s FA was among the first to apply to take part. “The analysis conducted by FIFA was like holding up a mirror,” said Joe Patit Suphaphongs, its General Secretary. “To see where we are right now, so we can see where we want to go. For every girl and boy who wants to play, we want to put in place a structure to give them the best chance to reach the best level they can,” he said.
FIFA has a unique perspective on the challenges facing youth development across the globe and this allows it to help with the exchange of knowledge, which is one of the key pillars of the TDS along with expertise and training and education. In recent weeks, the TDS has brought together member associations from Europe, Africa, and Oceania to exchange their insights into supporting youth development and discuss shared challenges.
“An inspiring and stimulating scheme,” said Roberto Martínez, the Technical Director of the Royal Belgian FA and their men’s national team coach. “Amazing work that will bring clear benefits to all the MAs individually and football in general.”
For more information on the talent development scheme please visit the FIFA Training Centre: Introduction to the FIFA Talent Development Scheme.