The fifth season of UEFA's Study Group Scheme (SGS) is in full swing, with Europe's national associations joining forces in the technical sector for the overall benefit of the European game.
The scheme, which began on the initiative of UEFA President Michel Platini, sees member associations visit one another to share knowledge, experience and best practice in coach education, youth, women's and grassroots football. A total of 51 seminars are taking place this season – 15 on elite youth football, 13 on coach education, 13 on grassroots football and ten on women's football.
Some 1,700 football technicians from throughout Europe are taking part in this season's seminars, which are being hosted by 31 different associations. Serbia, Hungary, Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are new hosts for the 2012/13 campaign.
The Football Association of Serbia (FSS) were proud hosts of a seminar on elite youth football, which drew guests from Italy, Moldova and Azerbaijan. Theoretical and practical sessions, featuring national youth team players, were held in the Sports Centre in Stara Pazova on the first day. During the second day, the participants were invited to see how Serbian clubs FK Crvena zvezda and FK Partizan nurture their young talented players.
"Our technical staff had the opportunity to obtain new knowledge and to introduce that knowledge within the practice of our organisation," said FSS general secretary Zoran Laković. "We believe that all of the visiting delegations returned to their countries richer for another positive experience."
"It was our aim to present the Serbian football school in a comprehensive way," added national teams director Savo Milošević. "We presented the programme of work with the national teams, the way of testing, and the selection criteria that our association is implementing. We visited the two most successful clubs in Serbia and the two most famous schools – FK Crvena zvezda and FK Partizan – the teams that have the most players in the youth national teams of Serbia."
Grassroots football was on the agenda at another successful seminar in England, which was attended by delegates from the Swiss, Austrian and Belgian associations. The visitors heard about the Football Association (FA) Charter Standard, under which the FA has established a quality grassroots control system that recognises and rewards the clubs that are well run, sustainable, and which place paramount importance on children's protection, quality coaching and safety.
The seminar in England also saw a visit to an FA 'Mash-Up' session – a programme aimed at 14 to 17-year-old boys and girls who have dropped out of football or are close to doing so. The project enables them to play football away from club structures in a relaxed way, in order to rediscover the pleasure of football. These sessions are based on enjoyment rather than on competition, and take place after school in five-a-side centres.
A third key element of the grassroots seminar in England was a visit to an FA Skills Programme session. The project is aimed at five to 11-year-old children, with the general goal being not only to improve the children's football skills, but also to have a healthy activity and to give them confidence. The FA emphasised that the player was the focal point of all such projects.
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