Saturday 07 May 2022, 06:00

FIFA Forward drives Lithuania and RSC Anderlecht collaboration

  • Partnership centres around youth development in Lithuania

  • Lithuanian Football Federation celebrating 100th anniversary in 2022

  • Lithuania hosted FIFA Futsal World Cup™ 2021

The Lithuanian Football Federation is marking its 100th anniversary in 2022 at a time of great progress and excitement for football in the Baltic state. Lithuanian football is seeking to build on the successful hosting of the FIFA Futsal World Cup™ 2021 last year, the first major FIFA tournament since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. To progress, the LFF have turned to the fundamentals and are working with Belgian team RSC Anderlecht, one of the world’s best producers of young talent, to improve youth development and cultivate best training practices. The LFF, Anderlecht and youth football programmes in Lithuania have been brought together by the FIFA Forward campaign.

“The main reason was the idea to import the Anderlecht youth development programme and know-how to Lithuania,” explained Deimantas Bička, the project leader of the LFF and RSC Anderlecht Programme. “A plan was therefore drawn up by the Lithuanian Football Federation and Anderlecht, with the help of the FIFA Forward programme.” “The long term vision is based on the fact that two, three years ago our youth development system was in a very bad way. Anderlecht has enabled us to try a modern approach to youth development.

“We know Belgium have been top of the [FIFA men’s] world rankings for years. We are able to receive the know-how, professionalism and experience from their academy. “We really hope that in three, four, five years we can emulate at least a part of what the Belgian club – one of the leaders in youth development – is doing. This is the vision.”

FIFA Forward drives collaboration between Lithuania and RSC Anderlecht

“It is an honour for RSCA to partner with a national federation such as Lithuania and for them to trust the future of their talents in our hands. From the start we have felt a great fit with the LFA in terms of objectives, potential and values. We will ensure that this project is handled with the care & attention that we demonstrate daily with our own academy,” said Aaron Kanwar, Head of RSCA International after signing the three-year partnership. The first two years of the project have seen an intensive transfer of youth football methodology and an increase in the use of video analysis, testing of players and long term player development planning in Lithuanian youth football. The project became widely known in Lithuania as the “Anderlecht” programme.

“Probably the main (principle) is the structure of a training session. Every exercise is connected. The training session is not chaotic, it has a theme,” said youth team coach at LFF and the Baltic Football Academy, Arturas Svaikevicius. “Consistently, from the first exercise to the end of the session, everything happens according to that theme.” The benefits of the programme are being felt across the board.

FIFA Forward drives collaboration between Lithuania and RSC Anderlecht

“The training sessions are better structured, and all groups adhere to the main concept of the academy. There is now structure, more detailed planning, and control over the process,” added Georgas Freidgeimas, a fitness coach working on the project. “I think we have seen the biggest improvements in the structure, and this influences the quality of our training sessions; they are more intense, [a lot] better, [and] the quality really improves.” The LFF is marking its 100th birthday with a landmark celebration on May 7.