The ambitious UEFA Study Group Scheme sees Europe's national associations share technical know-how on a variety of issues – all with the common aim of improving football across the continent. The scheme, launched on the initiative of UEFA president Michel Platini, is now into its second season and is proving a great success.
In one recent example of inter-association cooperation, the Football Association of Iceland (KSÍ) played host to Austria, Faroe Islands and Portugal for a Study Group Scheme visit focusing on women's football. Topics covered in the visits throughout Europe also include grassroots football, coach education and elite youth football.
KSÍ representatives were able to rely on memorable recent experience in exchanging know-how in the women's sector. Iceland's senior women's national team produced a fine achievement in qualifying for the 2009 UEFA European Women's Championship in Finland, where they performed creditably in the group stage, losing by only a single goal to eventual champions Germany.
An insight was also given into work at club sides Breidablik and Valur Reykjavík – and the visitors watched a training session at both clubs. Women players' development was high on the agenda too, as Katrin Jonsdottir, Iceland captain and a former youth-teamer at Breidablik, gave personal reflections on the work and dedication needed to succeed as a women's footballer.
Sessions are attended by members of the UEFA Development and Technical Assistance Committee. Ísak Mikladal, from the Faroe Islands Football Association (FSF), was an enthusiastic observer of the events in Iceland. "This programme makes it possible for people from the associations to visit their colleagues in other countries for the first time and build on this for the future," he said. "Good friendships will be established which will be for the benefit of European football. We will see an increase in technical development at all levels in the future."
"The UEFA Study Group Scheme gives us the opportunity to share our experiences and learn from each other," said Gudrun Inga Sivertsen, a member of the UEFA Women's Football Committee and chairman of the KSÍ women's national team committee. "It is a valuable technical exchange which encourages development in football. Hopefully the participating countries go back home with ideas they can put into practice to further develop women's football."
"It is our hope that Austria, Portugal and Faroe Islands benefited from the programme we put together for them, and they can go back to their countries and put to use one or two good ideas from Iceland," added Siggi Eyjolfsson, KSÍ technical director and head coach of Iceland's women's team. "We are also pleased that the UEFA Study Group Scheme enhances communication between the national associations and strengthens the bond between us."
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