UEFA and Europe's leading club coaches join forces to debate and exchange ideas on Wednesday and Thursday at the annual UEFA Elite Club Coaches Forum at the House of European football in Nyon.
The meeting, the 14th of its kind, is now a yearly fixture on the UEFA calendar, making a vital contribution to the European body's decision-making processes and activities. The start-of-season forum also affords the coaches an invaluable opportunity to talk together and swap ideas away from the touchline and hectic everyday schedules.
The continent's foremost club technicians are joining European football's governing body to discuss the latest trends, as well as to express their views to UEFA on the major issues affecting top club football. UEFA listens closely to the coaches' opinions and, in the wake of past forums, has taken on board and implemented certain proposals that have been made. UEFA welcomes the time spent with Europe's elite trainers in order to converse and consider developments in coaching at football's summit.
A star-studded list of coaches has been invited, and those who will attend include: Massimiliano Allegri (AC Milan), Carlo Ancelotti (Paris Saint-Germain FC), Frank de Boer (AFC Ajax), John van den Brom (RSC Anderlecht), Unai Emery (FC Spartak Moskva), René Girard (Montpellier Hérault SC), Kasper Hjulmand (FC Nordsjælland), Leonardo Jardim (Olympiacos FC), Jorge Jesus (SL Benfica), Ivan Jovanović (APOEL FC), Jürgen Klopp (Borussia Dortmund), Mircea Lucescu (FC Shakhtar Donetsk), Roberto Di Matteo (Chelsea FC), José Mourinho (Real Madrid CF), Vítor Pereira (FC Porto), Thomas Schaaf (SV Werder Bremen), Diego Simeone (Club Atlético de Madrid), Luciano Spalletti (FC Zenit St Petersburg), Fatih Terim (Galatasaray AŞ), Tito Vilanova (FC Barcelona), and Arsène Wenger (Arsenal FC).
The UEFA Elite Club Coaches Forum was first held in 1999. "The idea is that those who are involved in our club competitions get the opportunity to give feedback on these competitions, and a lot of suggestions made over the years have come into play," said UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh. "In addition, it's very much a coaching exchange where we talk about football in terms of its development. However, it's not only about techniques and tactics. We've also begun talking about issues such as management and leadership.
"This time we will also have [UEFA chief refereeing officer] Pierluigi Collina with us to talk about recent developments in refereeing," said Roxburgh. The coaches' attention to detail – rather than just the bigger picture – has also proved a positive help to UEFA. At past meetings, delegates have triggered innovations. For example, the idea of the UEFA Champions League ball came from conversations at the elite forum.
The forum provides a platform for coaches to speak about the various aspects of their work in a relaxed setting away from the pressures of their high-profile jobs. "An enormous amount of information is exchanged in an informal context at the event," Roxburgh explained. "Many of the coaches have said that it has been invaluable to them to come together for this forum."
The UEFA Elite Club Coaches Forum also serves to give younger coaches a chance to listen and learn from experienced colleagues – and to become acquainted professionally and personally. "When the coaches go into the European competitions, the relationship is different when they meet each other because they have been at our event, " Roxburgh added. "There's a friendliness, rather than what might have been formality previously, because they've been able to meet and talk in such a context. "
UEFA's dialogue with Europe's coaches is intensive during September. The Elite Club Coaches Forum is followed at the end of the month by the 10th UEFA Conference for European National Coaches in Warsaw, which will look back at this summer's UEFA EURO 2012 tournament in Poland and Ukraine and examine the latest developments in the national-team game.
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