March 16 – Speaking at the FIFA Congress in Kigali, Rwanda, FIFA’s chief of global development Arsene Wenger outlined plans for FIFA to create a youth development academy in every country of the world by 2026.
FIFA has earmarked $200 million for the 2023 to 2026 cycle for its new Talent Development Scheme which Wenger said was developed out of a “huge responsibility and great opportunity which we want to take now”.
The new scheme will identify talent and funnel the best boys and girls from the age of 12 to 17 into academies where they will receive “proper training and good coaching”, said Wenger.
When players get to the age of 17 Wenger said that competition becomes important for their development and referenced the U17 World Cup which from 2024 will take place annually with 48 participating teams divided into four ‘mini-tournaments’ of 12 teams each divided into 3 groups of 4 with the winners and best runner up qualifying to the semi-finals. The winner of each of the four mini-tournaments will qualify to a ‘final four’ tournament to decide the FIFA U17 World Champions.
Emphasising that the “quality of coaching is vital”, Wenger said the target was to have 30 countries operational by the end of the year. The deadline for federations to apply to achieve support for the first phase of academy creation is May with a second opportunity to apply in October.
“For countries where it is needed to give support we will put coaches on the ground who will train the players and educate local coaches,” said Wenger. By 2026 FIFA expects to have 70 coaches working worldwide “supported and educated by us”.
“To make football truly global we need to make education global,” said Wenger. “You can count on our help and with this programme you have the opportunity to do it.”
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