#Training framework

Give every talent a chance: The vision of the FIFA Talent Coach Programme

FIFA, 30 Jan 2024


The Talent Coach Programme was recently launched by FIFA as part of its Talent Development Scheme.

The highly ambitious project aims to assist member associations in setting up high-quality youth academies in order to maximise their potential. Arsène Wenger is FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development. In this insightful interview, the former Arsenal manager discusses the Talent Coach Programme, an initiative that he believes will change football globally.

The key objectives of the Talent Coach Programme are to:

  • Identify talent;

  • Put the best with the best;

  • Provide a quality coach to develop young players; and

  • Develop the infrastructure to provide opportunities to young players.

Watch interview

Read summary

The vision behind the initiative
In the first part of the interview, Wenger looks back at how and why the initiative was conceived. He explains that after analysing football worldwide, the best-performing countries were identified as those with a quality education programme. However, several countries were lacking in that respect and provided few or no opportunities for players to develop at an early age. To plug the gap, those countries would be provided with a national academy and a talent coach in a bid to improve their infrastructure and develop football at both the elite and grassroots level.

A collaboration between FIFA and the member associations
The need for cooperation between FIFA and the member associations is expressed, as it is the associations that know where to find the best players in their respective countries and how best to develop their own infrastructure. FIFA will give financial and technical support, while the member associations will provide the assistance and desire to develop the relevant frameworks.

Long-term player-development strategies
Wenger underscores that FIFA will act merely as a catalyst for developing young players in countries where opportunities to do so are limited. He hopes that once countries have been provided with the necessary knowledge and expertise, they will be sufficiently equipped to continue the work themselves. He expresses his desire to change the world of football so as to unlock the potential in every country through this youth education initiative.

Challenges faced in identifying talent
FIFA's Chief of Global Football Development points out that certain countries, such as India, are so vast that they are hamstrung when it comes to finding talent, while some other countries have no organised competitions, making it difficult to identify talent since the players cannot be seen in competitive action. He goes on to explain that once the talent has been identified, it is vital to put the best with the best, as it helps players to develop at a faster rate.

Target age between 12 and 16 years
Wenger believes that all aspects of player development should be slowly integrated between the age of 12 and 16 years, including the way in which the players train and work with the ball, team-mates and opponents. If they do not start playing until the age of 15, they are unlikely become top-level footballers. At the age of 12, players can start to train four or five times a week, making it a crucial age for contact time and for coaches to assess their ability.

Training programme
In the opinion of Wenger, players should ideally train for ten hours per week and play an additional two hours of game time. He explains that a lot of the training is focused on developing technical qualities and understanding the game. He describes how a common FIFA-designed philosophy is used to develop the players and is provided to the coaches before they work with the academies.

Key components of a good academy
In the closing section of the interview, Wenger explains that a successful academy relies on having suitable infrastructure in place to keep the best players together. He also reiterates that the coaching programme and the players must be of a high standard. He adds that every effort must be made to keep the players together until the age of 16 to help form their character and ensure that they become reliable people.

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