FIFA Forward contributes to successful U-15 tournament in Croatia

  • Fourth edition took place in the second week of May with eight U-15 men's national teams

  • The tournament is named after Vlatko Marković, one of the most prominent individuals in the modern history of Croatian football

  • HNS President Marijan Kustić: “We are happy to be able to invest FIFA Forward funds to develop football”

“We support FIFA's efforts in growing the game globally, and we will continue to invest FIFA Forward funds in development project such as the Vlatko Marković Tournament,” said the President of the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) Marijan Kustić with satisfaction at the conclusion of the latest edition of the aforementioned tournament.

Held in the Croatian towns of Sveti Martin na Muri, Ludbreg, Čakovec and Varaždin during the second week of May, the tournament was attended by eight U-15 national teams and financially supported by the FIFA Forward Programme.

Via FIFA Forward 1.0 and 2.0, FIFA has supported four editions of the tournament with a cumulative investment of USD $748,000. The Croatian Football Federation also contributed with USD $108,000 of their own funds.

As in the previous three editions, the tournament was eventually won by the home team. In this 2022 edition, Croatia defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina 2-0 in the final.

"Youth development is the cornerstone for the success of Croatian football, and we are happy to be able to invest FIFA Forward funds to different development projects such as the Vlatko Marković Tournament. It has quickly become internationally recognisable event as an excellent showcase for talented U-15 teams from across the globe,” concluded the HNS President.

“Such tournaments are a real treasure; they are the final ‘icing on the cake’ at the end of the season. In such tournaments, young players gain valuable experience and become acquainted with different mentalities and football philosophies, which is very important in their football development,” added Croatian U-15 head coach Sergej Milivojevic.

“It brings a competitive charge and prepares these young men for more serious football. For a young player, these are their first appearances for the national team where they get to learn everything about being part of the team’s culture.”

Apart from the players, holding such youth tournaments are equally important for coaches. That is why Milivojevic wanted to highlight the collaboration of FIFA and its Forward Programme and what this means for the overall progress of talent in Croatia.

“FIFA has recognised the importance of investing in the development of young footballers. When the world's leading football organisation is behind such a competition, it increases the value. I can say only say the best things about the FIFA Forward programme. This is the right path,” he added.

In addition to the two finalists, the other participants in the fourth edition of the tournament were Republic of Ireland, Uzbekistan, Montenegro (Group A) and Wales, Bulgaria and North Macedonia (Group B).

The competition is named after one of the most prominent individuals in the modern history of Croatian football, who presided over the HNS from 1998 to 2012 and passed away on 23 September 2013.

"We are proud to honour our former president Vlatko Marković for his lasting contribution to Croatian football, as he was very influential in HNS's efforts in youth development," said Marijan Kustić about the tournament's namesake and what it means for the Croatian federation to continue this legacy of youth football development in the country.

The FIFA Forward Programme will continue to contribute to contribute to the development of Croatian youth football. In addition to this tournament, it is also supporting the HNS in the creation of women's U-15 and U-17 leagues in the Balkan country.

FIFA Forward is built to provide 360-degree, tailor-made support for football development in each of FIFA’s member associations and the six confederations, and is based on the principles of more investment, more impact and more oversight.

Discover more
Find out about FIFA Forward's background and proposition.
Image > FIFA Forward Program
The core principles
Find out more about the FIFA Forward core principles.
FIFA Forward
Programme history
Explore the history of the FIFA Forward Programme since the first edition in 2016.