OFC Member Associations are among the 200-plus countries across the globe to have signed up for FIFA’s first-ever Talent Development Programme, setting a new benchmark for initiatives created by world football’s governing body in the area.

Launched in January by FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development Arsène Wenger, the programme aims to provide Member Associations with a thorough analysis of their high‑performance ecosystem in both men’s and women’s football, including all national teams, domestic leagues, scouting projects and academies, in order to ensure that every talented player gets a chance to reach their potential.

“The whole world has signed up for the FIFA Talent Development Programme. We are very proud of the high number of participants and the trust that all Member Associations have given us. With trust comes responsibility, though: we have to be swift, helpful, knowledgeable and efficient,” Wenger said.

“The success of the programme will be based on good communication and a precise analysis of the needs of every Member Association so that we can deliver a report and provide tailor‑made support. We also want to create opportunities, for example through best practice models, in which Member Associations can learn from each other and have the possibility to think outside of the box and their own environment.”

Tahiti’s Technical Director Patrice Flaccadori is among many other participants including the current men’s and women’s world champions, France and the USA respectively, as well as Member Associations that have never qualified for a FIFA tournament.

Patrice Flaccadori. Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek

“This programme is extremely important for the Tahitian Football Association because it will help bring greater professionalism to our members,” he said.

“Given our particular situation (geographical location, demographics, level of development, and so on), our association needs to assess all of its programmes every year, especially the way our elite performance programmes are organised.

“The various questionnaires being provided will enable us to see where things stand and to measure the gap between the initial situation, the objectives identified and the end result.

“They will also help trigger ideas and new lines of thinking on how to develop structures, such as the importance of drawing up a development plan, of monitoring players using longitudinal data, of organising delegations (mission sheets), of planning and/or scheduling, etc.

“To sum up, the programme is relevant because it will help us from a structural point of view.”

As health remains the main priority in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, online tools are set to play a key role in the implementation of the Talent Development Programme.

A group of 30 FIFA experts, including former USA women’s national team coach April Heinrichs, ex-England manager Steve McClaren and former Premier League Director of Football Development Ged Roddy, have been replacing their on-site visits with remote assessments and – based on online surveys and interviews – will produce a report for each of the Member Associations, thus mapping their technical ecosystems.

“Thanks to technology, football can stay united despite the distance. We have received positive feedback from the Member Associations, as they are eager to start. Football has a huge educational responsibility,” Wenger said.

“The FIFA Talent Development Programme is aimed at giving a chance to every child in the world who wants to play football and help him or her to improve and experience positive emotions. I hope the programme can help children to become top-level players, or if not, at least give them the opportunity to follow their dreams and play the game that they love.”

In 2021, FIFA will focus on the implementation of tailor-made technical programmes for each Member Association with a view to tackling potential challenges and maximising the comparative advantages that each association possesses.

Courtesy of FIFA