A development forum for talent and infrastructure in Africa was held; an event held as part of the FIFA Forward Programme. The aim is to create a forum for dialogue between the MAs, FIFA and experts.
“We need to stop saying that we have to ‘develop’ football in Africa. The time has come to ‘propel’ it to the top of world football,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino in his speech at the 43rd CAF Ordinary and Elective General Assembly on 12 March 2021.
“The time for talking is over. What we now need to do is go forward, and we need to do it as a team: a CAF team and a FIFA team, also bringing together all the confederations and member associations from around the world.”
Soon after this call for action, a Forum for Talent and Infrastructure Development in Africa was held on 5 and 6 May, and it was a great success, with no fewer than 54 members associations sending representatives.
“FIFA, via the Forward Development Programme, is making the necessary resources and structures available to support the 211 member associations and the six confederations when it comes to developing football throughout the world,” explained Kenny Jean-Marie, Director of Member Associations Services. “The Forum is part of FIFA’s duties in helping to strengthen and develop the skills of football’s leaders and administrators within our member associations.”
The forum took place over two days via videoconference. The presidents and general secretaries of the federations were the main people involved on the first day, which was dedicated to exchanges of ideas and strategic reflection. The following day, the general secretaries were joined by national technical directors, administrative and financial directors and heads of marketing for what was described as ‘operations-focused’ discussions.
The following subjects were on the agenda:
- Infrastructure maintenance
- Infrastructure location, balancing the theory and the footballing reality
- The challenges faced by structured administration when implementing a strategic plan
- Diversification of financing
“The aim of this inaugural event is to open up a forum for listening and discussion between the member associations, FIFA and experts, to come together and work out not only what the issues are, but to formulate potential systemic responses to the themes we identify,” Jean-Marie said. “The member associations will be more involved and will become the drivers of their own skills development plans.”
The development of strategic planning and the diversification of revenue-generating activities were identified as priorities, as was the ability to work in teams, infrastructure maintenance and the development of cooperation between the federations. Furthermore, the innovative character of the forum, with co-construction of ideas between MAs, was a big plus.
“I sincerely hope that this proves to be a positive new step as we – the African member associations, the CAF and FIFA – collectively steer African football towards a higher level in every sense of the term,” Jean-Marie concluded.
The forum was certainly appreciated by its participants. “Many thanks for a very enriching, refreshing, motivating and inspiring workshop,” said Malawi’s Limbani Cliff Matola, Commercial and Marketing Director. “It’s been so useful and empowering for us in Malawi.”
Mohamed Silimane, the Niger FA’s General Secretary, added: “Thanks to FIFA for this great initiative. the exchanges were very interactive and fruitful. Many great ideas for the development of football.”