Friday 02 February 2018, 13:47

Technical experts working together to drive football forward

  • Multi-day FIFA workshop for technical experts in Doha comes to an end

  • Focus on the exchange of experiences and definition of common goals

  • "FIFA is looking to coordinate the activities between the different confederations"

The fishermen of Doha were sailing around the harbour in their wooden boats, looking out over the azure waters at a skyline that combines centuries-old traditions and with ultra-modern monuments. At the same time, in a nearby hotel, a group of football experts were enjoying a full and frank discussion. The gathering attracted plenty of attention among the other hotel guests, as everyone taking part in the discussion was wearing blue and white tracksuits. They were the 75 FIFA members from 45 different countries, who had come to spend the week in Qatar at the FIFA workshop for technical experts. And they were united not only by the colour of their clothing and the logo they sported on their chests, but by the commitment and determination that they have for football and their respective confederations and national associations.

"We are the people who implement the FIFA philosophy, which means that it is really important for us to have information about current initiatives and targets," explained coach instructor Vanessa Martinez from Mexico. And together with her colleagues, she was indeed given an overview of the latest FIFA programmes, such as the one governing technical expertise, as well as being able to have their say on the development of the game. "It was a big step," she said. "It is important for us to work together to drive football forward."

In addition to women’s football and the training of coaches, the workshop also focused on grassroots and youth football, as well as on the technical advisers and technical directors in the various confederations and national associations. FIFA Deputy Secretary General Zvonimir Boban spoke of recent experience with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system and took on board the questions and opinions expressed by the participants. "It is essential for FIFA to gather these footballing experts together in one place to talk with them, exchange ideas and to learn from them," he said. "We all have a huge shared passion – namely football. Only if we use our synergies can we achieve the best we can for the good of the game."

The workshop, which was the first of its kind in over five years, brought together experts with impressive levels of footballing knowledge and involvement. Hannu Tihinen, for example, played over 400 matches in a career that took him to countries including Belgium, England and Switzerland, earning over 70 caps for Finland. After hanging up his boots, he remained in the game and became technical director of the Finnish national association. "The group of technical directors exchanged ideas but also discussed how we could communicate useful information in such a way that it gets through to those in charge on the technical side in the national associations, and strengthens their positions," the former defender said. "I’m delighted that FIFA has been working intensively on training people for a number of years now, as this is the basis."

The technical directors’ group alone had over 150 years of footballing know-how, driven by a love of sport which sees them working every day to develop and improve the game. FIFA welcomes their contributions with open arms and is building the future around their expertise. With President Gianni Infantino's "FIFA 2.0" strategy, the governing body of world football is counting on the commitment of people like them, as they understand the different needs of the national associations and look to provide them with solutions that meet their individual requirements.

While their teams regularly face one another out on the pitch, the national associations come together for a common goal, namely achieving the best they can for football around the world. The workshop was a symbol of this commitment, and was gratefully and enthusiastically received by all who took part in its lively discussions. "FIFA is looking to coordinate the activities between the different confederations, and that represents a real step forward, and one which will reap rewards in the future," said Andy Roxburgh, technical director of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). "I am delighted to be part of a movement like this, and to be able to contribute to the discussions."

The entire week in Doha saw the workshop participants give their all for the metaphorical 90 minutes, and while they will now have to swap their blue and white tracksuits for more conventional clothing, they will take with them the resolution and the desire for commitment, diversity and cooperation. FIFA technical director Steven Martens, for his part, was pleased with the workshop’s outcome. "The aim was to achieve a common understanding of our goals and to bring all the activities together," he said. "The participants were highly interactive and that is precisely how we want to organise our courses and consulting. We want the confederations and the national associations to be part of the process, so that the programme for technical expertise that we have developed together can be sustainably implemented."