UEFA's ambitious Study Group Scheme (SGS) – whereby Europe's national associations come together to exchange technical expertise and know-how for the overall benefit of football across the continent – is gearing up for further progress.
The 2012/13 campaign saw no fewer than 51 seminars dealing with the focal points of the programme – including 15 on elite youth football, 13 on coach education and grassroots football, and ten on women's football. Thirty-two different UEFA member associations acted as hosts, with Serbia, Hungary and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia staging SGS events for the first time.
An impressive number of European football technicians – 1,680 in total – attended the seminars as the associations joined forces to swap expertise and ideas. The scheme, an initiative of UEFA President Michel Platini, aims to raise pan-European standards through, for example, visits by association specialists – with the help of UEFA funding – to gather technical knowledge from other associations, particularly at their clubs.
The UEFA Development and Technical Assistance Committee, in cooperation with the UEFA administration, monitors the Study Group Scheme. Its quality is assessed by committee members and by processing the feedback from both the host and the visiting associations. In principle, each FA can host three study visits a year, and each of these can feature three different visiting associations at one time.
Next season will see attention concentrated on more specific elements of the four specialist topics featured in the programme, with 52 seminars planned. All of UEFA's member associations will be involved, including newcomers Gibraltar, while Montenegro have come forward to join the list of seminar hosts. As usual, Development and Technical Assistance Committee representatives will watch the progress of the scheme at first hand by attending seminars.
"Knowledge is power; more technical exchange means more power to the associations and therefore to European football," says UEFA of this innovative scheme. "In addition, the programme stimulates the role of those who take ideas and concepts back to their own associations for deployment, with senior technical staff playing a full role."
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