UEFA's HatTrick scheme has helped Europe's member associations progress on and off the field since 2004 – and a review has been issued to show just how the game has benefited.
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The relationship between UEFA and Europe's national football associations has been unshakeable since the European governing body was born in 1954. UEFA has diligently fulfilled its priority mission – to support the associations and help each of them to develop and progress on and off the field – as a result, helping football advance across the continent.
Over the past decade, UEFA's assistance to its member associations has assumed even greater significance thanks to the UEFA HatTrick programme, which has had an immeasurable impact on the European game's development. HatTrick, launched at the end of 2003 and entirely funded by revenue from the UEFA European Football Championship (EURO), was established to provide financial support to the UEFA associations in order to foster and strengthen football at all levels.
To evaluate the overall effect of the HatTrick scheme, one needs merely to look at the infrastructures that have been set up, the facilities that have become available and, if results in the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifiers are anything to go by, the strides made on the field by a host of European countries and their players. Now, to celebrate a decade of HatTrick help, UEFA has issued a comprehensive review of the work undertaken over the past ten years – all of which has been instrumental in nurturing European football's well-being.
The UEFA HatTrick Review comprises a compilation of UEFA member association development projects carried out from 2004 to 2014. It explains the decisions taken and methods used to ensure that this innovative programme has been able to produce such outstanding results.
The review shows how the landscape of European football has altered over the decade – new administrative headquarters; renovated offices with state-of-the-art equipment; constructed new, fully equipped training centres for youth and senior national teams; and comfortable, modern stadiums and facilities.
The national associations have been afforded invaluable backing by governments, municipalities and local authorities – and these partnerships have, among others, brought about the installation of mini-pitches across Europe, reinforcing and enabling grassroots football and youth development. Knowledge-sharing initiatives under HatTrick's auspices have increased the expertise of association staff and helped make associations' management even more efficient.
To give the review important substance, each of the 54 member associations have presented their choices of the most efficient and beneficial HatTrick projects, thereby delivering a comprehensive overview of the programme and a guide to infrastructure development, good governance, long-term investment and social programmes.
Every photo and specific article tells its own story – across Europe, UEFA has played a major role in conjunction with its FAs to improve, strengthen and develop domestic football infrastructures on and off the pitch for male and female players, coaches, referees, children, staff members, administrators, management and fans.
The statistics in the review are also significant, revealing the number of investment projects approved, solidarity payments made and funding available over the three four-year cycles since 2004. Furthermore, from 2016 to 2020, a total of €600m – more than ever before – is earmarked for UEFA's associations to support their activities and fund long-term investment.
Countries large and small, established football nations and those with cherished dreams for the future have all gained from HatTrick. The presidents at the helm of each association have also been invited to express in the review just what the assistance has meant to their nation's football.
These are just some of the comments: "The UEFA HatTrick programme is of major importance to the development of European football." ... "The additional HatTrick funding is vital for countries such as ours to continue to grow and aspire to raise the bar of football." ... "HatTrick has helped put smiles on the faces of countless children." ... "HatTrick has also given relevance to our daily cooperation with stakeholders." ... "For smaller associations, it is a resource they cannot do without simply because it changes the scope of what can be achieved."
UEFA President Michel Platini is, naturally, extremely proud of what HatTrick has achieved and will continue to achieve. "This review proves that the UEFA HatTrick programme is a success and that the European football family are getting concrete benefits from the funding," he says. "HatTrick can be a lifeline for some member associations and a valuable financial contribution for others.
"All players dream of scoring a hat-trick at some point in their careers. Today, though, the word means so much more than that….exactly ten years after its creation, HatTrick is now one of the largest solidarity and development programmes ever to be established by a sports body. It is a hugely significant initiative.
"In all cases," the UEFA President adds, "the funding changes the way we all play football – especially in crucial areas of the sport, such as grassroots and youth development. UEFA is proud to present this review; it is a true representation of what we can achieve together and underlines the dedication and hard work of our 54 member associations."