The forum featured coaches from the majority of Europe's top 20 clubs – based on the all-time rankings from the UEFA Champions League – and began with Andy Roxburgh, UEFA's technical director, outlining the aims for the session. Roxburgh was keen to emphasise that the forum was an opportunity to exchange ideas and information, improve relations between clubs and federations, and for co-operation with UEFA in terms of development.
Points from Potsdam
UEFA's technical director went on to recap on the issues that had been raised at the last forum, in Potsdam two years ago, and discuss the progress which has been made on those suggestions. One idea that had been proposed was an endorsement programme for club's youth academies and Roxburgh explained that, after research, this has been incorporated into the club licensing system. A specific coaching licence for youth level had also been mooted, and – subject to agreement from UEFA's Executive Committee – this was also agreed to, and will run parallel with the A Licence at senior level.
The coaches then divided into two groups to discuss a variety of pertinent issues: how the club licensing system will affect youth development, the major problems confronting youth development programmes, how good practice can be shared and how UEFA can further support youth programmes. The coaches then reconvened after an hour to offer their feedback and thoughts on those matters.
The next item on the agenda was the issue of homegrown players, which will come into force in UEFA club competition at the start of 2006/07. Roxburgh began by outlining the new rules, under which clubs will have to have at least four locally-trained players – meaning players trained at the club or in the same member association, although at least half have to come from the club in question – in their squad by the start of next season, rising to six by 2007/08 and eight the following campaign.
That stage of the discussion allowed the coaches to offer their reactions to the proposals and, as expected from people who work with young players, the response was broadly positive. Roxburgh also explained UEFA's rationale behind the system, saying that European football's governing body wanted to ensure as far as possible that sporting prowess, rather than financial acumen, is the decisive factor.
As the session drew to a close, the penultimate item was an explanation of the newly-formed UEFA Coaches Circle, aimed at sharing information such as training routines among practising coaches around Europe and which is intended to expand further in the months and years ahead. Roxburgh brought the forum to a conclusion by thanking everyone for their involvement and said an action list of points to be raised will be sent to the participating coaches in the next week.
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