Living Football | Episode 9

1 Jul 2021
  • Portugal legend Nuno Gomes reflects on his career, from the streets to the World Cup

  • FIFA Chief of Global Football Development Arsene Wenger discusses his Global Report

  • We see how FIFA’s COVID-19 Relief Fund got Barbadian football back on track

Two World Cup appearances. 143 international caps at all age levels. Over 150 goals in 460-plus league appearances, in a career spanning 19 years. Nuno Gomes not only cut a dashing figure on the field, but across two decades, he was a mainstay of the Portugal’s A Seleção.

In Episode 9 of Living Football, Nuno spoke to presenter Jessica Libbertz about how his career started on the streets of his hometown of Amarante, and why his journey may have been different had he not had opportunities to play organised football as a child. The quality of Portugal’s youth football infrastructure was one of many of the themes discussed by Arsene Wenger, in the context of FIFA’s recently launched Global Report. A team of 30 FIFA High Performance experts looked at youth football practices across the world, conducting more than 1,000 interviews and 2,000+ surveys with key members of the technical development hierarchy in each member association (MA). The research alone amounted to more than 20,000 pages. “It’s important to do the right thing, at the right age,” the former Arsenal manager explained. “There are 160 countries outside of Europe where children want to play football. Many countries don’t have development programmes, so children don’t have the chance to play. I find that sad.”

The global report offers insights into a number of key areas of talent development, namely talent identification, training, playing opportunities, and the transition from youth to senior level. Each country's report offers tailored guidance on how the MA could proceed, given their own particular national situation. Expanding further, FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development correlated player development with building a house. “The first floor is about technique. The second floor is about physical fitness and stamina building. As well as developing positional awareness. The ‘roof’ is mental strength. How much do you want to become a player?” Wrapping up Episode 9, Living Football travels to the Caribbean, and specifically the island of Barbados to talk to national team Head Coach Russel Latapy, and President of the Barbados Football Association Randy Harris. The duo explain how FIFA’s COVID-19 Relief Fund got football underway again after a long pause and they talk about the importance of national team players being paid a stipend for the first time ever as part of the preparations for the last round of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifiers in the Concacaf region. They also talk about their hopes that further investment in infrastructure, with the support of FIFA’s Forward programme, will realise a long-held dream: the national team – men and women – qualifying for a major tournament.