All participants agreed on importance of TDS in Algeria
MAs learned from each other’s strengths and weaknesses
Senegal Technical Director discussed country’s successes
With the support of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the Algerian Football Association, FIFA chose Algiers to host Africa’s first Knowledge Exchange workshop, as the FIFA Talent Development Scheme (TDS) enters its full implementation phase. The workshop coincided with the CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria, which saw Senegal lift the trophy after defeating Morocco in the decider. The two finalists, along with Burkina Faso and Mali, qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup due to take place later this year. Eight African member associations (MAs) were carefully selected to attend the continent’s first Knowledge Exchange workshop at the Hyatt Regency Airport Hotel, namely: Algeria, Morocco, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Zambia, Ghana and South Africa. There, the workshop was delivered by the TDS and Technical leadership teams.
Speaking during the media day at the end of the six-day workshop, FIFA’s Head of High Performance Programmes, Ulf Schott, said, “The aim of this workshop is for each MA to develop a long-term plan based on their specific needs, identifying what they want to achieve and the obstacles currently preventing them from doing so. Based on this, they can then determine what’s required to achieve results with their national team. We looked into six specific aspects: national teams, academies, talent identification, coach education, resources and administration, and tournaments.” FIFA High Performance Specialist, Faisal Chibsah, said, “We had a great week exchanging knowledge in Algiers. Our goal at this workshop was to take advantage of the TDS to bring member associations together and discuss best practice and the challenges we face so that we can learn and grow together across Africa. That’s the only way we can gain further knowledge and give every talented child a chance to develop their skills and achieve their dreams.”
Unanimous agreement on importance of TDS’ implementation in Africa
Raul Chipenda, CAF Director of Development, spoke on the importance of the workshop in Algiers: “Previously, MAs worked in isolation, keeping their expertise to themselves. The Algiers workshop was unprecedented, being the first time African associations had ever met to share their experiences. This is hugely important because it will enable each association to understand the reasons for success and failure, as well as what needs to be improved.”
Morocco has seen significant success in recent years, with their men’s side making a historic run to the semi-final at Qatar 2022, their women’s team qualifying for Australia & New Zealand 2023, and their U-17 team reaching the Africa Cup of Nations final and qualifying for the U-17 World Cup. Their Technical Director, Chris van Puyvelde, said, “I was very happy to participate in the Talent Development Scheme workshop in Algeria. The programme is very important because it’s supporting African associations and the biggest talents are to be found in the continent. FIFA are doing the right thing because the aim of football is to support and stand with everyone, not only in terms of the sport itself but also organisationally, and this is the aspect most in need of development across Africa.”
As for the hosts, Algeria Technical Director, Mustapha Biskri, said, “We’d like to thank FIFA for the interest they take in African football and the support they provide to people across the continent. The aim of this workshop was to exchange ideas about how the eight associations in attendance could work together. Specifically, this means developing youth talent, which we know exists in Africa and can be identified through the Talent Development Scheme.”
Former Côte d'Ivoire goalkeeper and current Head of Youth Development, Alan Gouamane Guiaholy, noted, “Football is a fast-moving sport, and meetings like this enable us to stay informed and up to date in an efficient way.”
Senegal discuss recent successes
Senegal has been hugely successful in African championships of late, winning the Africa Cup of Nations, the African Nations Championship, the Africa Beach Soccer Cup of Nations, the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations, and, most recently, the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations.
Their Technical Director, Mayacine Mar, who attended the workshop in Algiers, said, “We covered a number of important points at the workshop, including what talent is, how to identify it, where to develop it, who’s responsible for monitoring that development, and the current state of youth tournaments. It was a good opportunity to exchange ideas and increase our knowledge by learning what associations in different countries are doing.”
Participants benefitted greatly from the contributions of Mar, who attributed Senegal’s recent success to “choosing the right people” and “putting them in the right positions,” as well as “stability at all levels” and “smooth transitions,” which have brought continuity to their work.
Algerian Football Association President, Djahid Zefizaf, concluded the workshop, saying, “We hope this won’t be the last of these events here in Algeria, and our assocation will make whatever provisions are necessary to host another workshop like this in the future. I hope all member associations are successful in their talent development efforts, especially those who have focused on stability and are now reaping the rewards.”