Milan meeting first step on a journey to opportunity

  • Mentor Dean Klafuric and mentee Silviya Radoyska met in Milan

  • AC Milan’s Carolina Morace helped host first visit at her club’s training ground

  • Visit part of FIFA's Coach Mentorship Programme

Empowering the next generation to take their own path while taking lessons from those more experienced is a tricky balancing act. Dean Klafuric is hardly the ‘old guard’ – the former Croatia women’s national team coach is 46 - but he is attempting to tread this fine line with his role as mentor on FIFA’s Coach Mentorship Programme.

If his first meeting with mentee Silviya Radoyska in Milan is anything to go by, he is on the right track.

“The most valuable advice he shared with me was always to be Silviya Radoyska,” the Bulgarian international captain told “No matter what I learn, it’s important to have my own vision for the game and an individual coaching attitude.”


  • Launched in October 2018

  • Partnering 17 experienced coaches with 21 up-and-coming coaches from across women's football

  • Overseen by FIFA's Women's Football Development Department

  • In-person and Skype meetings over 12 months

  • Programme will run through until November 2019

For almost a week, the pair worked tirelessly together on their first in-person visit on the programme, which took place at the fabled AC Milan training base. Legendary former Italian international turned coach Carolina Morace was their host, and access to a high-level women’s team undoubtedly helped the pair’s progress during the week.

“It’s unbelievable just how open and ready for co-operation Carolina was,” Klafuric said. “Her self-confidence as a female coach is very important for Silviya in this part of her career. Carolina was always ready for discussion and was totally open in talking about her tactical demands and her principles in football.”

Dean Klafurić and Silviya Radoyska on FIFA's Coach Mentorship Scheme


* Croatia Women’s head coach: 2009-12 * Legia Warsaw head coach: 2018 * Won Polish league and cup double in 2018


* Current Bulgaria women’s national team captain * Also currently Bulgaria Women’s U-19 National Team head coach * Has won over 150 caps for her country * Was named Bulgarian women’s footballer of the year in 2015

The best mentor/mentee relationships are mutual, and both Klafuric and Radoyska allied their unique backgrounds and experience with the opportunity presented by working at Milan, to actively share ideas.

“To observe the work of the best coaches in women’s football is a great experience for improving the football knowledge of the mentees,” Radoyska said. “Moreover, working with a mentor who analyses your individual work, observes and provides you with feedback is a valuable opportunity to expand your football knowledge and coaching skills.”

“I have also learned a lot from Silviya,” Klafuric said. “Her questions are keeping me sharp as a coach and I’m going through some theories and principles that I learned a long time ago and put in the back of my mind, even though they are important.”

The first step on this exciting journey for this mentor/mentee relationship has already born fruit, with both sides admitting this intense week has been a learning curve.

“I would say I’ve received as much information in this week as I’ve received in the past year!” Radoyska concluded. “I think this is a perfect approach: to see the work of experienced coaches in women’s football and in the presence of a mentor who points you the right direction all the time.”

This pair’s journey will continue in March, with the next visit planned to be during the training camp of Bulgaria’s U-19 Women’s team. Radoyska will then host Klafuric, as the latter analyses how the young coach prepares her team – putting her nascent experience on the Mentorship Programme so far to the test.

Milan mentorship highlights

  • Learning about AC Milan Women’s weekly ‘micro cycle’ during the season

  • Observing training sessions, reviewing their effectiveness

  • Witnessing video analysis sessions

  • Reflecting on methodology of training sessions, psychological approach

  • Discussing other facets of coaching: matchday preparation, player behaviour