The FIFA FIT Technical Centre at the new Home of FIFA in Zurich played host to no fewer than six FIFA instructor seminars between 5 February and 2 March 2007, covering a wide and diverse range of topics.
Experts on the FUTURO III development programme were inspired by courses covering administration and management, coaching, and refereeing, with an equally rich array of information and debate in workshops dedicated to Com-Unity, fitness training for referees, and coaching development in women's football.
The aim and purpose of the seminars was to exchange experience, establish personal contacts between groups of international experts, convey information regarding future FIFA projects and programmes, present new instruction materials, stimulate debate over follow-up projects within the various development programmes, and lay out the schedule of activities planned for 2007. FIFA.com reviews the series of seminars.
Seminar for FUTURO III administration and management instructors (5-6 February 2007)
In his keynote address, the FIFA President emphasised that football management must become fully professional, and called on the instructors to play their part in realising this goal. A football association could no longer be simply "administered", but must be managed like a business. Employees should be subject to appropriate selection criteria and trained on the job. Furthermore, specialists in finance, marketing, communication etc would be needed to tackle the task effectively.
FIFA member associations are required to conduct their daily business in a professional manner, maintaining a credible and transparent public image. Only then are they in a position to sustain partnerships with governments and business, and profit accordingly. The FIFA-supported International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) offers a range of foundation and advanced courses. Post-seminar support for FUTURO III instructors working in administration and management was a central topic at the seminar, attended by 20 instructors from all six confederations . FIFA intends to take a proactive approach in pursuing its goal of well-trained regional and national instructors. A variety of suggestions was presented, and will be debated and implemented according to responses received from instructors.
Com-Unity (7-8 February 2007)
Com-Unity was founded three years ago, and has undergone a rapid development phase with continual additions to the FIFA instructor team. Some 28 communication and marketing experts were joined by three development officers at this year's seminar. Key topics were exchanging experience from seminars held in 2006, debating problems which have arisen, and evaluating suggestions for greater efficiency in running the seminars. One ongoing challenge is translating recommendations from Com-Unity seminars into realistic, timely results. Future measures in the areas of marketing and communication will include specific follow-up programmes to be established at national association level following Com-Unity seminars. These programmes will include organising workshops exploring the two core topics, and individual consultations for communication and/or marketing officers at association and club level.
FUTURO III coaching instructor seminar (13-15 February 2007)
The seminar focused on the FIFA Technical Study Group (TSG) analysis of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, the analysis provided by host nation Germany, and the presentation of instruction materials arising from the tournament. Working groups created a number of training routines which were presented and handed over to FUTURO III workshop participants.
One interesting observation was the process by which a variety of football philosophies were combined in the course of constructive debate and analysis, before practical implementation, explanation and discussion on the new artificial turf pitches at the Home of FIFA. A recurring topic for debate was variations in terminology which can often lead to comprehension difficulties at workshops. A standardised vocabulary would simplify the transfer of information. Follow-up measures for FUTURO III participants were also discussed. Two key suggestions could be put into practice depending on the situation in any given region: (1) nominating regional instructors drawn from FUTURO III seminars; (2) proactively organising seminars for member associations led by FUTURO III participants, with financial and logistical support from FIFA and its instructors.
A football match between teams of instructors rounded off the seminar. The likes of Argentina international Gabriel Calderon, former Australia coach Frank Farina and Peru legend Teofilo Cubillas showed time has not diminished their copious ability. Those present also declared themselves extremely satisfied with the new artificial turf at the Home of FIFA.
Referees' instructor course (20-22 February 2007)
Following a review of the courses run in 2006, the focus of the referees' instructor seminar was a presentation of new instruction materials (text book and DVDs). A number of working groups developed practical routines, which were presented for demonstration purposes before implementation at FUTURO III seminars. For a number of years, football teams have been on hand at FIFA courses to help demonstrate routines in the real-life situation. A refereeing quartet has now been added as well, bringing instructional routines even closer to the competitive reality. A total of 36 instructors took part in the seminar, including several who have only recently ended successful refereeing careers, such as Urs Meier of Switzerland and Sweden's Anders Frisk .
Referees' fitness course (27-28 February 2007)
For a number of years, FIFA has maintained a pool of fitness instructors for referees. Each confederation can nominate one expert who is available to continental associations and member associations as an instructor and consultant, and is tasked with implementing and monitoring newly-developed fitness tests at association level. Reports presented by the instructors indicated that a number of associations are using the new tests. However, it was also clear that certain continents could only provide the barest minimum of information, which is deemed as unacceptable by FIFA. Further topics at the seminar included implementing the new fitness tests in women's football, presenting results from the new FIFA fitness tests from FIFA competitions in 2005 and 2006, an open debate on fine-tuning the new FIFA fitness tests, a study on Injury prevention for referees and their assistants, and the presentation of a new timing system for the fitness tests.
Women's football instructor seminar (1-2 March 2007)
A total of 19 instructors (15 women, 4 men) gathered for the first seminar in Zurich specifically dedicated to training coaches and instructors in women's football. The two main topics were: defining the requirements of member associations, and coaching programmes to be developed by FIFA accordingly. It was suggested the programme be established at three performance levels: grass roots and school football, club football and international football (i.e. national coaching staff etc). The proportion of female participants at every seminar should be at least 50 per cent. The first level would focus on fundamentals of the game, personal technique and a coach's basic tasks. The second level would examine team tactics and technical training routines, fitness basics, and individual technique and tactics. The highest level would offer a comprehensive training programme corresponding to the advanced level of the participants.
Further topics discussed at the seminar were the tendency for some national associations to resume the appointment of men instead of women as national coaches (e.g. Sweden, France, Italy, USA); the lack of financial support from national associations for participants (male and female) at the FIFA course, even though participants intend to pass on their expertise at association level seminars; the possibility, after evaluating the FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007, of increasing the number of competing nations at the finals; the introduction of a futsal world championship for women - although before such a competition could be introduced, member associations would need to attend to the fundamentals; and a potential increase in the obligatory percentage of funds from FIFA financial support programmes dedicated to women's football (currently 10 per cent).
In conclusion, and at the request of the FIFA President, the instructors delivered a recommendation to the International FA Board (IFAB) proposing an amendment to Law 4 of the Laws of the Game ('players' equipment') suiting the requirements of women's football.
The six seminars have thoroughly prepared the instructors for their duties within FIFA's diverse development programmes in 2007. The year is expected to include a total of approximately 100 to 120 courses covering all subject areas. Given the high demand and the sheer number of courses to be run, recruiting new instructors is a top priority. A number of candidates were invited to this year's seminars, and will be tested in the course of the year with a view to incorporation in the 2008 instructors list.