As the dust settles at the end of a successful FIFA U-20 World Cup, another prestigious, if less widely known, event was brought to a close at the final whistle in the shape of the FIFA Coaching Instructors' Seminar.
The four-day event, which was organised by FIFA's Development division and brought together the likes of technical directors, development heads and coaches from every confederation across the globe, was the first to be held for five years. Covering theoretical, technical and practical aspects of the wide-ranging roles of the FIFA Instructors, it was a chance for ideas and understanding to be spread amongst some of the best each corner of the planet has to offer.
With the likes of Gabriel Calderon, Teofilo Cubillas – veteran of three FIFA World Cups and a Copa America winner with Peru – and Ecuador coach Reinaldo Rueda, there was clearly plenty of expertise on show. It is a gathering that the boss of La Tri believes plays a crucial role. “Each seminar brings a lot of progress,” Rueda said. “It's a very important process for us all to be taking part in and plays a big part in the future as well.”
This connection with the prosperity of the game was not one lost on the rest of the participants at the seminar. “We have a huge responsibility, because our role is to identify and train the next generation of coaches, with those coaches having to develop the next generation of players,” said Didier Chambaron, Head of Education and Training Programmes at OFC. “But I'm very confident because, as you can see here, there is commitment, passion and motivation.”
Football is not just about technique and tactics, it's also about education, culture and human values. We can learn it, but even more we can transmit it.
Members from each confederation spoke to those gathered about the issues they face and methods they use, a valuable insight according to Govinden Thondoo, a FIFA Technical Development Officer in Gaborone, Botswana. “We have been able to get a broader idea about what is happening across the continents, the common challenges – of which there are many – and this can help us to find solutions that can adapt to the local realities of which we are working.
“We have people from different confederations, with different cultures, and this is where we get richer,” he continued, “because football is not just about technique and tactics, it's also about education, culture and human values. We can learn it, but even more we can transmit it. It's very positive.”
With the course taking in activities in both the lecture hall and on the training field, it was also a chance to see some of the attendees in their element, in an environment where all were equal. “The key word here was humility,” Chambaron said. “We have people here who have participated at World Cups as players and coaches but are very humble. They are able to identify what you really need and they provide you with advice – it's my image of football. Football should be about sharing at every level.”
While exchanging knowledge amongst them is a major part of the programme, they were also given presentations from the likes of Interpol – on how they can help prevent match-fixing – and provided with insights into the latest technology that can aid their work. Head of coaching for the FA and England U-17 coach John Peacock felt the latter can be a great help to aiding the way they all operate.
“Technology is changing all the time, and for coaches and managers around the world it's moving very quickly. In our position you sometimes have to take on board some of these new ideas and new ways to do the analysis,” he said, adding that hearing how other instructors work has always been a great help. “What we do in England will be certainly different to what they do in Africa and South America, so from my point of view it's quite nice to learn how other people are doing things.”
Bringing all these fellow FIFA Instructors together also created a great opportunity to network, with the chance to collaborate in new ways. “The networking purpose was great, it gave us the opportunity to interact. It was wonderful that we were able to exchange ideas,” said Vaithilingam Subramaniam, FIFA Technical Development Officer for south Asia, who now hopes to coordinate with neighbouring counterparts. “You interact, you get to find out what the other regions are doing and of course there is knowledge to be gained from there.”
As participants of the seminar took their seats at the Ali Sami Yen Arena to watch the final two games of the tournament, it was fitting that four teams from four different confederations were closing the competition. Ghana, Iraq, France and Uruguay provided an apt counterpoint to the diversity that had been on show among the departing FIFA Coaching Instructors.