Sunday 21 May 2023, 04:00

East Asian MAs share best practice at FIFA Forward 3.0 Workshop in Tokyo

  • The FIFA Forward Workshop for East Asia Member Associations took place in Tokyo between May 15-19

  • General Secretaries and Forward managers from East Asian MAs participated in the three-day programme.

  • USD 8 million is available via FIFA Forward 3.0 Programme for each member association to help grow the game strategically and substantially.

FIFA and the Japan Football Association (JFA) – with particular thanks to FIFA Council Member and Japan Football Association (JFA) President Kozho Tashima - hosted a four-day workshop in Tokyo for East Asian MAs, with the primary objective geared towards how the FIFA Forward Programme can support them to grow and develop the game via dedicated funding, guidance and support. FIFA’s goal is to ensure that each MA has three key infrastructures in place: an international class stadium that can host international matches, their own headquarters, and a national training centre. The participants also received presentations on a wide variety of FIFA projects and assistance available, including in the areas of Integrity, Digital Skills, the Talent Development Scheme and women’s football development, among others. During the workshop, each MA was able to learn how FIFA Forward funding has already contributed to the enhancement of facilities and infrastructure in the region via numerous 'best practice' case studies.

Under the Forward 1.0 and 2.0 cycles, FIFA has already invested over USD 80 million into the East Asian MAs. The region itself has witnessed the successful implementation of 43 Forward Projects spanning from infrastructure improvements, and increased competitions, to the utilisation of technology. In Japan, a project that encapsulated four competitions in three age categories has seen the increase in the number of professional players between 2019 - 2022. In 2021 alone, 25 players were signed by J-league clubs and 32 players received call-ups to Japanese youth national teams from the U18 Premier League. As part of the workshop, the MAs present also got to visit the JFA’s National Training Centre in Yume; an eye-opening and inspirational opportunity.

In China PR, the Forward funding went to revamp the U-19 National Super League that observed a significant increase of over 500 players in 2019, whilst Macau and Chinese Taipei are among the beneficiaries of infrastructure projects.

With the financial support of FIFA Forward, both MAs were able to finally own their respective headquarters for the first time since their foundation. This has facilitated the growing operations and activities of the MAs; a base from which to implement their long-term football development plans.

Mongolia has nurtured the establishment of six Forward projects since 2017. In infrastructural terms, a brand-new pitch with floodlight system was fully funded at the National Team Training Centre in 2018, followed by another pitch coupled with a grandstand & multi-purpose facilities between 2018-2021. Last year, the Mongolian Football Federation was able to add the newest additions to their portfolio with an eco-friendly pitch renovation at the MFF Football Centre & Headquarters, and the milestone installation of an Air Dome. “I was inspired by the Air Dome, which was used by the Mongolian MA in order to secure adequate circumstances [conditions] for players, even in winter, to play football,” explained Tsuneyasu Miyamoto, General Secretary of the JFA.

Terbaatar Dambijav , General Secretary of the Mongolian Football Federation, explained how the project was funded by FIFA Forward and the impact that it has had on ensuring players can still play football, despite the harshness of the climate. “During this workshop, FIFA acknowledged our Air Dome project’s successful achievements and we are very pleased with that as well,” he said. We are continually working towards improving our infrastructure and our football pitches as part of the FIFA Forward project.” He too was keen to hear of projects in other countries which have generated similarly positive results. “We have gained a lot of experience from other countries thanks to this workshop,” he said. “Especially with regards to the Forward 3.0 project, we have gained information as to what can be done. The first action we need to take, in the scope of the Forward 3.0 project, is to implement what we have learned from other countries.”

Similarly, Valentino San Gil, President of Guam Football Association, was keen to hear of how facilities can be developed.

“I’ve learnt that there are a lot of programmes that we can apply for and also a lot of the benefits that we can use in our member association such as women’s programmes,” he said. “The biggest problem that we have in Guam football is that we are lacking facilities. So, with the help [from] FIFA with the Forward Programmes 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, we are looking at developing new facilities all over the island.” Chan Keng Hou, Macau Football Association General Secretary, explained how FIFA Funding has already impacted on the development of the game. “Under the 2.0 Forward programme, Macau is able to have, for the first time, to [have its] own headquarters since the association was founded in 1939,” he said. 

Belinda Wilson, FIFA Senior Technical Develop Manager of Women’s Football speaks at the FIFA Forward 3.0 Workshop for East Asian MAs

Belinda Wilson, FIFA Senior Technical Develop Manager of Women’s Football, explained just how FIFA Forward funding can make an impact with a real ambition of bridging the chasm between men and women’s football. 

“I think the biggest challenge that they have is more – and I can say it from a women’s football perspective – is reducing the gap,” said Wilson. “We’ve got some top member associations who are world class, world champions at U17, U20 and at senior level, but we also have member associations that are still developing the game at the very basic level and creating the structures in the game is very young.”

Sanjeevan Balasingam, Director of FIFA Member Associations, Asia & Oceania, gives a welcome speech at the FIFA Forward 3.0 Workshop for East Asian MAs

Sanjeevan Balasingam, Director of FIFA Member Associations, Asia & Oceania, has urged all Member Associations to make the most of the available funding. 

“All 9 MAs in East Asia are representing a population of over 1.6 billion people, which has an 20% world share of the total global population" he explained. "China PR, Japan and Korea Republic are also among the world’s largest economies by GDP contribution. In the meantime, FIFA also recognizes the gap among each MA in the region, both on and off the pitch. To address this issue, we have ensured the Forward programme is a tailor-made tool that fits each MA’s development status to maximize its impact.”

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