Thursday 20 September 2018, 09:07

Brazil and Cuba form development partnership as part of the FIFA Forward programme

  • The Brazilian and Cuban football associations have signed a collaboration agreement

  • The project is being carried out as part of the FIFA Forward programme

  • Its aim is to promote the technical development of Cuban football across all age groups

The Football Association of Cuba (AFC)’s general secretary Jesus Pereira and his counterpart at the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), Walter Feldmann, signed a collaboration agreement to promote the technical development of Cuban football from youth to elite level. The agreement was signed in the presence of Jair Bertoni, FIFA’s Director of Member Associations, Americas, and members of FIFA regional offices in Panama and Asuncion. The partnership will also promote training for referees on the island. The project, which aims to support technical development from grassroots level, began last Monday with a course for Cuban youth team coaches.

"The initiative aims to develop existing potential in Cuba and raise the level of the game here by sharing experiences and passing on expertise, and this agreement enables both associations to do just that," Bertoni said during the event. Upon the completion of the first course, attended by 25 male and female coaches, he explained: "Instead of offering sporadic opportunities, this project is a concept developed as part of the vision FIFA President Gianni Infantino outlined in the FIFA 2.0 document. Part of this vision acknowledges the need to encourage greater cooperation between the 211 member associations and foster the exchange of knowledge, experience and best practices."

Long-term project Bertoni also emphasised "the tremendous importance of the positive relationship between the AFC and CBF, who have signed the first FIFA Forward collaboration agreement between associations from two different confederations, with one association hailing from the North and Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) and the other from the South American confederation (CONMEBOL)."

The collaboration is scheduled to run until at least 2020 but is likely to be extended for an indefinite period of time if at all possible. While the primary focus of the project is on training for coaches and referees delivered locally in Cuba by Brazilian instructors, traineeships and shared experiences will also promote the technical development of Cuban players.

"There is no doubt that initiatives like these contribute to our development," said AFC general secretary Jesus Pereira at the event held at the Melia Habana hotel’s Salon La Palma. "That’s why we want to express our thanks on behalf of INDER [The National Institute of Sport, Physical Education and Recreation] and the Cuban Olympic Committee for this joint initiative, which will be extremely beneficial for Cuban sport in general and football in particular."

The collaboration agreement’s aims include fundamentally supporting the Cuban game from children’s and youth football upwards and supporting the development of infrastructure, resources and expertise. The project will also deepen the relationship between two nations with a proud sporting heritage.

Walter Feldman, general secretary of the CBF, expressed his gratitude for the efforts that made the agreement possible before adding: "The desire to promote football in Cuba will be realised differently this time than in the past. This project gives us an opportunity to share knowledge but, more importantly, it will also have a practical impact on the pitch."

Football’s contribution to society The representatives speaking at the event emphasised how this kind of collaboration enables the exchange of expertise and best practice between Brazil, one of the world’s most important footballing nations, and Cuba. They also reiterated football’s social and developmental significance for any country, and highlighted the agreement as confirmation of the beautiful game’s global reach and ability to convey values.

The FIFA Forward programme has already had far-reaching effects in Cuba. The national football association’s financial resources have quadrupled, enabling it to set up school and children’s leagues for the past two seasons. The artificial pitch at Havana’s La Polar sports complex has also been completed and work has begun on a second artificial pitch at the Antonio Maceo complex in Santiago de Cuba. The programme has also enabled the AFC to modernise Estadio Pedro Marrero and maintain its pitch.

Football in Cuba has experienced exponential growth in recent years and is now one of the most popular sports in a country traditionally dominated by baseball.

With initiatives such as this collaboration, the FIFA Forward programme as a whole and the enthusiasm and passion shown by the AFC’s members, it may not be long before the beautiful game becomes the island nation’s sport of choice.