In football, as in life, success is a mixture of several ingredients. Commitment, experience, training and, of course, talent tinged with a spot of luck dictate whether the outcome is victory or defeat, trophies or relegation, jubilation or despair.
It is a moot point as to which ingredient is more vital than the others. Some see only talent as the decisive factor while others cite an endless list of perennial but disgraced geniuses and sing the praises of those stars who have made it to the top by sheer dint of hard work.
The truth of the matter lies, as with many other things, somewhere in the middle. Those not blessed with basic talent soon come face to face with their limitations, with truly exceptional exploits constantly eluding them. But even the most talented will inevitably fail if they rely purely on their abilities.
The only footballers attributed with having been born with their gift are the Brazilians. And of all the associations, it is Brazil's CBF that preaches that raw talent is not enough. Practice makes perfect is the mantra constantly humming around the Sugar Loaf Mountain, as graphically illustrated by an article in this edition of FIFA magazine. And as shown in yet another article, the treasure trove of talent gushing from the Maghrebi countries is simply the result of hard graft.
But good and productive work can only be carried out effectively if the circumstances are right. With this in mind,
FIFA has been striving for over thirty years to strengthen its member associations and their football environment through clearly structured programmes
. In the early days, the focus used to be on courses and seminars but nowadays, thanks to FIFA's robust financial situation, there is a wide range of initiatives on offer to support and develop the associations.
These have been parcelled together within the scope of such initiatives as Win in Africa with Africa. In addition to certain projects such as laying at least one artificial turf pitch in various countries in Africa, FIFA has devised long-term plans to strengthen football throughout the continent as a whole in an effort to stem the tide of migration from Africa to Europe. These include professionalising the organisational structures not only of the associations but also of the leagues with regard to arranging matches and transfers and dispensing disciplinary measures.
Our sport thrives on the gamut of emotions and magic moments that only true genius can generate and such thrills are only rendered possible if we pursue systematic goals. In other words, what we are doing for the game, we are doing for the world.