Europe's football associations continue to profit from each other's experience and expertise under the UEFA Study Group Scheme, an innovative programme in which the 53 UEFA national members share their knowledge.
The scheme, initiated by UEFA President Michel Platini and funded by UEFA, is now into its second year. The results show that the programme's objective – to help raise European technical standards overall – is being met and actually surpassed in many cases.
UEFA associations have hosted a total of 25 visits from their counterparts so far this season, and another 27 are planned for the second half of the campaign. The visits focus on areas such as élite youth football, coach education, grassroots and the women's game.
In examples of recent co-operation, experts from Belgium, Romania and Switzerland visited the French Football Federation to learn more about coach education. Delegates from Ukraine, Czech Republic and Poland travelled to England to find out more about their grassroots programme. Azerbaijan, Andorra and Denmark went to Croatia to hear about coach education work, while France, Slovenia and Israel are currently in Spain for a trip based on élite youth football.
Knowledge is power
Feedback has been excellent from UEFA's 53 member associations, all of which are contributing to the project. The scheme is seen as an extremely valuable technical exchange which encourages development. "Knowledge is power; more technical exchange means more power to the associations and therefore to European football," said Frank Ludolph, UEFA head of football education services, during a seminar in Croatia. 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 in each one playing a full role.
Each member of the UEFA development and technical committee has taken part or will participate in an upcoming visit. A total of 156 groups of eleven members will be travelling to other associations – all will again benefit from the scheme – and no fewer than 1,700 football technicians around Europe are expected to be involved in the second year of the venture.
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