Wenger discusses talent development at coaches' conference in Freiburg

  • Arsene Wenger participated in a BDFL conference in Freiburg

  • FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development called for better talent detection and development

  • "Between the ages of five and 12, it's better to have no coach than a bad one”

Arsene Wenger has been FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development since November 2019, and it was in this capacity that he took part in the International Coaching Conference organised by the Bund Deutscher Fussball-Lehrer e.V. (BDFL) in Freiburg from 23 to 25 May. The BDFL, the German professional association of coaches with a UEFA A or Pro licence and football instructors, wished to benefit from the Frenchman’s vast experience, as well as that of Ulf Schott, the Head of FIFA's High Performance Programme. The pair presented FIFA's new policy on the promotion of talent and elite football and explained the wish of world football's governing body to improve the competitiveness of national teams by reducing the gap between the game’s most powerful nations and those with fewer resources to develop the discipline.

Europe and the rest of the world

Wenger insisted in particular on the need to detect and develop young talent. "Talent-spotting is not working well enough," said the former coach of Arsenal and Monaco, among others. "We’re missing out on a lot of talent because we’re not able to identify them," he said, noting how the talent-spotting system was misfunctioning in some parts of the world. "Kylian Mbappe has African roots but was trained in Europe," Wenger added, using the example of the French striker of Algerian and Cameroonian descent to illustrate his point. "If he’d been born in Cameroon, he wouldn’t have become the striker he is today. There’s Europe and there’s the rest of the world. The latter needs help, otherwise we’re going to miss a great deal of talent." If unearthing talented youngsters is the first step, then logically the second is to train them – which is why Wenger and his team have set themselves the goal of improving the overall quality of coaches. However, to train young players properly, you also have to train their instructors. "Between the ages of five and 12, it's better to have no coach at all than a bad one," says the veteran Frenchman, who admits to not having had a coach until he was 19. "We need to train coaches better so they can do a good job," he insists.

Helping all countries realise their potential

Among FIFA's global development initiatives for the game is the creation of the FIFA Training Centre, which is proving an invaluable tool in the training of coaches. Instructors can benefit from a wealth of technical information, analysis and resources designed by renowned experts and coaches.

Through this policy of identifying and developing talent, players and coaches on a global scale, Wenger hopes to see a narrowing of the development gaps between different regions, as evidenced by the current dominance of South American and European nations in world football. By further developing the conditions and structures necessary for the expansion of elite football, FIFA aims to help all countries reach their full potential.