Thursday 08 February 2024, 20:30

FIFA President welcomes Türkiye 'sharpening focus' on grassroots game

  • Gianni Infantino hears of development plans from Turkish Football Association (TFF) President, Mehmet Büyükekşi

  • FIFA President "delighted" TFF now concentrating on school-age children

  • FIFA Football for Schools programme and Talent Development Scheme at centre of project

The President of the Turkish Football Association (TFF), Mehmet Büyükekşi, has outlined his plans to boost football at the grassroots and in schools in his country at a meeting with FIFA President Gianni Infantino. Shortly after his election as TFF President, Mr Büyükekşi met Mr Infantino in Paris, and gave the FIFA President an update on the extension of the TFF Riva Facility where Türkiye's national teams train. Part-funded using USD 2.25 million from the FIFA Forward initiative, the centre provides Türkiye's elite footballers with optimal conditions in which to train and prepare for matches.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino with The Turkish Football Association President during a meeting with The Turkish Football Association at FIFA Paris Office

Now, the TFF is looking to make use of the FIFA Football for Schools programme, run in collaboration with UNESCO and which teaches children life skills through football, and the Talent Development Scheme (TDS), overseen by FIFA's Chief of Global Football Development Arsène Wenger, which provides talented children a pathway to the professional game. "It was great to meet my friend, the President of the Turkish Football Association Mehmet Büyükekşi, and his delegation in Paris. The TFF has done great work to develop infrastructure for its national teams to flourish, and I am delighted to see it now sharpening its focus on the other end of the football spectrum: at grassroots level and in schools," said Mr Infantino. "It is my, and FIFA's, goal to provide every girl and boy with the opportunity to play football, not only to ensure we find the stars of tomorrow, but also to use the unique power of the beautiful game to boost physical and mental well-being, and pass on football and life skills that will serve them – and society at large - in the future."

A group photo during a FIFA Meeting with The Turkish Football Association at FIFA Paris Office

President Büyükekşi said the meeting with the FIFA President had been highly productive, emphasising the TFF’s collaborative efforts with FIFA. During the deliberation on potential international events to be hosted in Turkey, the discussion centered around Turkey's formidable organisational capabilities. UEFA Honorary Member and TFF Honorary President Şenes Erzik, Deputy President and Executive Board Member Responsible for FIFA, UEFA Relations and Foreign Affairs Mustafa Eröğüt, Board Member Responsible for National Teams Hamit Altıntop, General Secretary Taner Senseven, Foreign Relations and National Teams Executive Director Buğra İmamoğulları, and FIFA’s Regional Director Europe Elkhan Mammadov were also present at the meeting at FIFA’s Paris office. Mr Infantino also met President Büyükekşi, as well as Türkiye President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in June last year. That meeting came after FIFA had made USD 1 million available to provide urgent humanitarian aid following the devastating earthquake that killed over 50,000 people in Türkiye and nearly 9,000 in neighbouring Syria on 6 February 2023.