Friday 21 December 2018, 13:20

Americas region looking Forward in Paraguay and Costa Rica

  • Costa Rica and Paraguay recently staged two FIFA Forward workshops

  • The focus? Changes to and relevant parts of the new Forward 2.0 regulations

  • The aim: how to better develop football around the world

An increase in financial resources, with effective oversight and investment targeting football development: this is the key premise of the globally-focused FIFA Forward Development Programme.

A new cycle of this ambitious programme begins on 1 January 2019. All of FIFA’s Member Associations have been preparing to maximise the impact of the funds available (approximately USD $6,000,000 per association) over the next four years, during which they will be able to ensure ideal conditions and sustainable development for football within their countries, benefitting players (male and female; children and adults), referees, coaches and thousands of fans.

So that each Member Association is well prepared and equipped with the necessary knowledge to deal with the new Forward cycle, workshops were run to introduce them to changes to and the most relevant parts of the new Forward 2.0 regulations.

Both the Costa Rican Football Federation and the Paraguayan Football Association played host to the other associations that make up the Americas region, holding two workshops that proved to be extremely productive.

During these sessions, the finer points of the new Forward 2.0 Programme were studied, the first cycle (2016-18) was carefully analysed and the foundations were laid for the provision of the best possible service and support to the associations in terms of implementing projects and making use of programme funds, which are purely and exclusively reserved for football development in their territories.

Paraguay and Costa Rica were selected as models to emulate, as they both share a special feature: they boast state-of-the-art technical centres that were financed and implemented via Forward funds, and those facilities have served as excellent examples for future infrastructure, due to their pioneering approach to management, design, efficiency and maintenance.

Member Associations were introduced to all of the new aspects they will have to deal with from January onwards in workshops featuring question-and-answer sessions, useful discussions and new plans for the next Forward cycle.

Strategic planning, the establishment of concrete actions and discussions surrounding new objectives to be achieved over the next four years have become the key factors in materialising football development in the form of tailor-made projects for the various regions. Consistent, long-term plans are also created that have served as the principal focus of each association’s development programmes.

All of this will provide the ideal infrastructure conditions for football, the comprehensive development of youth and grassroots football (male and female), and consequently of national teams, as well as an improved organisation of a greater number of country-wide competitions that will increase competitiveness from grassroots level up to the sport’s elite echelons.

During the sessions in Paraguay and Costa Rica, representatives of FIFA’s Member Associations Americas Subdivision held bilateral meetings aimed at identifying the football-related situation and circumstances in each country, so that essential football activities could be strengthened through investment.

In turn, participating associations were able to share examples of best practice and successful projects carried out during the 2016-18 cycle. In particular, the host associations arranged a visit to both technical centres to showcase these exemplary initiatives, which enable them to provide their national teams with optimal conditions in a high-performance complex where the focus is on smooth operation and maximum quality.

Plans for the associations’ future projects, which will be implemented via FIFA Forward funding, were also presented, based on an analysis of needs and priorities, and on a strategy that guarantees steady progress towards football-focused sporting development.

"We are very satisfied with the projects that were implemented during the cycle that is coming to an end, and with the way in which the associations worked hard and made a real effort to ensure that football can provide the necessary conditions and elements to all those who are involved in it,” said FIFA's Director of Member Associations for the Americas, Jair Bertoni.

He concluded: "The efforts made by FIFA and each association have borne fruit. The 2019-22 cycle will bring with it new challenges, but the associations already have the know-how and solid, effective plans to ensure that projects funded by the FIFA Forward Programme can continue to help football develop in a professional manner and with concrete sporting results."