The advancement of football in Africa will need, among other things, good planning, execution and a strong working relationship between national associations and technical directors who oversee development programmes in their respective countries. Those are the sentiments shared by delegates at the start of the three-day FIFA/CAF Technical Director’s seminar, which kicked off in Pretoria, South Africa on Wednesday.

The main objective of the seminar is to make an assessment regarding the implementation of the coaching licensing system that CAF and FIFA started two years ago. Jean Michel Benezet, a FIFA Technical Director, said it was important that technical directors take the leading role in planning the long-term sustainability and development of the game in their respective countries. “In the rules of FIFA, it is stated clearly that each country should have a technical director,” he explained. “We have had to emphasise the importance of having this person. As many know, each member associate receives FAP [Financial Assistance Programme] from FIFA every year, and that money must be channelled towards development of football in the country. We have to make it compulsory for countries to have a technical director.”

The seminar will discuss some of the problems facing football on the continent, especially at grassroots level, and the challenges faced by technical directors. Benezet urged them to work closely with the national association’s general secretaries in championing development. He cited the example of the Rwandan U-17 side who have recently qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico. “A while ago, we opened the Rwanda development centre which was to oversee development of football in that country, and this year we saw the fruits of that,” he said. “The Rwandan U-17 team, which consisted of 95 per cent players from the programme, went on to reach the final of the African Youth Championships, and for the first time they have qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. So, now we know that if we invest in countries in Africa, the results are almost guaranteed in developing the game in this part of the world.”

We gather here with all the technical directors to assess just how far the national associations have travelled and discuss how best we can work towards solving some problems they are faced with.

CAF Technical Director Abdel Hussain Moniem

CAF Technical Director Abdel Moneim Hussein said it was important for both CAF and FIFA to get support from the technical directors on the African continent in order to improve the standards of the game, particularly at development level. “We would like to thank FIFA for the job they are doing in Africa in developing football in this continent,” he said. “We cannot overstate the importance of technical directors in the activities of football. It is important that we continuously engage with the various programmes. We have to make sure that money from FIFA and CAF is used for development.

“The most important thing is not just plans on paper, but the implementation of the programmes by the national associations throughout the African continent. We gather here with all the technical directors to assess just how far the national associations have travelled and discuss how best we can work towards solving some problems they are faced with. As CAF, we are doing our best to develop the game with big assistance from FIFA, of course,” he continued.

Hussein said such gatherings should not only be an exchange of information but also an opportunity to empower the technical directors. “As Africans, it is important that we look at ourselves and ask questions about why we are not producing coaches that are respected in the world,” he said. “We have to work towards developing and producing those coaches and that starts with development. We entrust the responsibility to carry on with our vision to the technical directors. In the near future, we need to see African coaches who are respected enough to work in Europe and also trusted to coach the respective national teams of their country.”

South African Technical Director Serame Letsoaka concurred with the importance of the event, saying: “It can only benefit us and our associations to meet and share ideas on how we can improve in what we are doing. It is important that we follow a uniformed approach in tackling what I believe are unique challenges facing us in the continent.”