Thursday 17 May 2018, 16:20

Strategy, progress and closer ties: the keys to the latest FIFA Forward Development Programme cycle

  • Held in Mexico and Colombia, the first two FIFA Forward workshops were both a success

  • The Bogota event was attended by all of the South American associations

  • Regional Offices are key to FIFA’s strategy of forging closer ties with the associations and to the success of its Forward Programme

Following the success of the FIFA Forward Development Programme workshop in Mexico City, the Colombian capital of Bogota played host to the Americas’ second such gathering, on 24-26 April 2018.

The three-day event brought together South America’s ten member associations and had the backing of the Colombian Football Association (FCF). In attendance were also members of CONMEBOL’s Development Department, who played their part in consolidating joint strategies and the spirit of collaboration between FIFA and the confederation in their drive to develop football across the continent.

The gathering provided an opportunity to review requirements, methodologies, strategies and processes with the aim of continuing the effective, transparent and sustained development of football. The lessons learned in the current FIFA Forward Development Programme cycle were also assessed and strategic preparations for the next cycle, in 2019-2022, explored in depth.

All eyes on the future Over the first two days, experts from the FIFA delegation and external consultants specialising in areas linked to the FIFA Forward Development Programme led discussions and gave presentations on the planning of infrastructure projects, strategic planning, technical development, refereeing and women’s football, among other key issues.

On the third and final day of the workshop the focus was on outstanding aspects relating to ongoing and future projects and on the programme-related needs, priorities and objectives of each association. The associations’ secretary generals, development directors and administrative officers also had bilateral meetings with a team from FIFA’s Member Associations Americas subdivision.

Speaking at the event, FIFA’s director of Member Associations Americas, Jair Bertoni, stressed the commitment of world football’s governing body to its member associations: “FIFA’s aim is to make its experts and resources available to its associations and to give them as much assistance as possible in every aspect needed to develop the game. And in working towards that goal, this workshop allows us to offer them more effective support, by taking their specific characteristics into account and supporting them in further defining their development needs and tailor made projects for the next Forward cycle in 2019-2022, among other things.”

For his part, Luis Guillermo Escobar, the general manager of the FCF, had this to say: “The FIFA development workshop held in Bogota was a unique opportunity to set out the FCF’s strategic approach. Drawing on everything we’ve learned, we’re going to request support from a consultant in developing a 20-year strategic plan.”

FIFA has established nine Regional Offices around the world, with one more to be opened in Addis Ababa this summer, bringing it closer to its 211 member associations.

These offices, staffed by development managers and project coordinators, are playing a crucial role in the development of world football, offering bespoke support in the successful implementation and management of the FIFA Forward Development Programme.

This approach has had a positive impact on the performance of associations, helping them to meet objectives and roll out activities and development projects that are sustainable in the long term, all as part of a strategic framework set up by the associations and guided by the principles of good governance. The result is increased transparency and integrity in the use of FIFA Forward funds.

“It’s a privilege for the Regional Office in Asunción to attend and meet with the South American associations on a regular basis. They’re all brimming with passion for football and keen to work and implement projects that will have a major impact on the development of our sport,” said Rafael Arias, development manager of the Regional Office in Asunción, the Paraguayan capital. “The Regional Offices will continue working to bring FIFA ever closer to its member associations and to provide the necessary support and assistance to ensure the success of development projects within the framework of the FIFA Forward Development Programme.”

These gatherings are crucial to the quest for excellence in the work carried out by FIFA and its member associations, and demonstrate that the development of football does not only seek to grow the sport but also to improve the lives of the people who play and live for the game.