CONCACAF representatives of member associations from Canada to Suriname convened in Cayman Islands for a seminar ran jointly between FIFA and the confederation aimed at improving football development skills.
Joined by a FIFA delegation including Secretary General Jerome Valcke and Director of Member Associations and Development Thierry Regenass, the presidents, secretary generals and technical directors of 24 CONCACAF members and CONCACAF officials participated in talks and workshops on a wide range of subjects; from developing women's football, to fighting match manipulation and how to combat discrimination.
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb were both on hand to open proceedings ahead of the various presentations.
The seminar provides insight into where help can be provided and for what regarding FIFA's various development projects, such as the Goal and PERFORMANCE programmes, and CONCACAF's own forms of support. Since 1998, FIFA have invested almost $285m across the confederation and 593 different development projects have been initiated since 2000.
Being kept abreast of the current state of development funding is crucial, according to St Kitts and Nevis General Secretary Stanley Jacobs. “Firstly this seminar acts a refresher, updating us on all the various programmes within the FIFA Development office,” he told FIFA.com. “Secondly it also brings new programmes to our attention that are coming on stream all the time, so the exchange of information is critical to us.”
President of the Aruba Football Association Richard Dijkhoff, who was recently elected to the position, believes it provides an invaluable window into how he can develop the association and football further.
“It's important to know what kind of programmes FIFA are providing, so we can apply depending on what the federation is intending to do itself,” he said. “It is really useful for me to get an idea of what I can count on if I knock on FIFA's door.
“After being elected, FIFA undertook a PERFORMANCE programme on the island, focussing on five key areas of analysis. They recommended the federation get a full time technical director and prioritise youth development. During the seminar I saw several programmes we can apply to help meet these targets.”
The wide range of subjects covered during the four days means member associations as disparate as Canada and Haiti can leave with a greater awareness on issues relevant to them, while the very differences between some of those attending allows the chance to glean methods from colleagues abroad.
“Communication, strategy, developing women’s football, ethics, all these topics have been touched on,” Wilner Etienne, Technical Director of the Haiti FA, explained. “We then met with our President and the Secretary General to try and find solutions to manage all these challenges, to erase our weaknesses, and to identify which areas we should improve to have a competitive FA.
“The seminar is also good for sharing. These types of meetings, with the Presidents, the Secretary Generals and Technical Directors, give us a clearer overview of what everybody does in their country.”
Jacobs similarly feels these kind of exchanges between colleagues from differing FA's is beneficial, allowing them maximising of potential and resources available, such as utilising the work of the technical director. “Optimising the function of the technical director position is critical, especially for small member associations that may not have the resources to do it all, so it is very important to us in that regard.”
The number of member associations taking part in the PERFORMANCE programme now stands at 155 globally, with 24 within CONCACAF (66 per cent of the whole confederation), while there have been 630 Goal projects since 1999, with 103 of those based within North and Central America and the Caribbean.
The four-day seminar is part of a series of 11, which are set to run until early 2014, having begun in September in Auckland, New Zealand.