During the first two weeks of September, the Spain FA's (RFEF) technical centre hosted FIFA's top men's and women's coaching and referee instructors from all over the globe.
The men's coaching instructors were first up between 4 and 6 September. In an opening ceremony presided over by two FIFA vice-presidents: Angel Villar Llona - (UEFA vice-president and President of the Spanish FA) and Reynald Temarii (President of OFC and Chairman of the FIFA Technical Committee) - the objectives of the seminar were highlighted as: an opportunity for the exchange of experiences; a forum to evaluate potential instructors; and to provide further education of future instructors.
FIFA's Technical Director, Jean-Michel Benezet added, "The objective of the men's seminar was simple because we have a lot of new programmes and more we would like to introduce in 2009."
The seminar also featured a presentation of Confederation Coaching Licenses (AFC and CAF) and was attended by Technical Directors of three Confederations (AFC, CAF, OFC). Abdel Monem Hussein, CAF's Technical Director, explained, "This meeting made us aware of the value of the work of the Instructors worldwide and also that FIFA is coming to help the Confederations."
Belhassen Malouche, FIFA Instructor and consultant from Tunisia was impressed when listening to a presentation on how Spanish national teams were prepared. "Of real interest were their philosophies on the dynamics between players and coaches, system of selection, and their long term planning," he noted. "Technique, personality and speed are the crux for them. I saw their team play in Canada at the FIFA U-20 World Cup and they played the same way as the national team."
Women in the spotlight
The objectives of the Coaching Instructors' Seminar for women's football were similar to the ones for the men: evaluation of a number of new potential instructors, to provide information on FIFA's new philosophy for the development of women's football with the introduction of a new programme as well as an opportunity for the exchange of experiences and opinions.
Hasan Al Sabah, AFC Assistant General Secretary and Director of Education, saw great benefit for the Asian region in having the region's instructors in attendance at the seminar, in particular for the women's game where progress and recent success (including Korea DPR winning the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup 2006) has been considerable.
New FIFA Women's Football Instructor and current New Zealand Women's Coach, John Herdman commented: "It was a perfect setting for FIFA Instructors.
Coaches have aspirations to come and work with the best football instructors in women's football, and then to also be presented with one of the best football environments in the world was magnificent.
The new philosophy for FIFA Technical programmes details that FIFA will be a role model in all football matters; be proactive and efficient; be complementary to the programmes of confederations and respond to the technical needs of Member Associations.
Referees receive a lecture
The same philosophy was also applied to the third and final three day instructor seminar for referees. From 12-14 September, 14 new FIFA RAP (Referee Assistance Programme) instructors as well as three female FIFA instructors and ten "Refereeing Development Officers" (RDO's) gathered in Madrid for the seminar which had two main objectives. Benezet summed them up best: "RAP (Referee Assistance Programme) is a new FIFA programme with two parts. The first objective was to increase the standard of referees for future international competitions, in particular for the FIFA World Cup 2010. The second part was to establish a new system for referees in order to develop the future through scouting and education."
In terms of the first objective of increasing the quality of refereeing instructors, the method approach was employed by FIFA. Spanish professor Guillermo Ballenato delivered a six hour lecture about methodology which reinforced the combination of teaching and learning principles with practical activities. The presentation was received very well by the participants.
Another key objective of the seminar was to obtain uniformity in the interpretation of the Laws of the Game and in the analysis of match situations. A considerable number of video clips were examined by the group in order to establish the criteria for analysing situations that occur within a match.
During the course, special meetings were also held with the new RDO's in order to provide guidelines on how to help and support the Member Association's to develop the refereeing and organise activities in their respective regions. In addition, the group worked on the organisation of the refereeing at Member Association level. Benezet concluded, ‘We hope this will have, like all of our initiatives, a huge benefit for the development of the game at all levels."