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Youth players

Elite youth programmes

We support national associations in creating the optimum environment for young players to reach their true potential.

As part of our mission to promote, protect and develop European football, we run youth programmes which help talented footballers across Europe reach their full potential.

By paving the way for generations of footballers to flourish, UEFA and its partners ensure the future of European football is built on strong foundations: high-quality players, on- and off-the-field.

Elite youth player development programme

Providing young talent with clear pathways to the top of the game is a key part of UEFA's responsibility for driving football development and competitiveness across the whole of European football.

All 55 of our member national associations are involved in the Elite Youth Player Development Programme, receiving €100,000 each season to invest in their football development strategy. This amount will be increased in the sixth UEFA HatTrick cycle between 2024 and 2028 to €150,000 each season.

UEFA's dedicated team is in regular contact with our associations to discuss and monitor funding projects, which range from talent identification to methodology of work and optimising the elite youth pathway.

"Setting a strategic development pathway to the elite level is crucial at this stage. Therefore, we endeavour to support our national associations from the base of their pyramid to the top level through grassroots, coach education, match and performance analysis and elite youth programmes.

Olivier Doglia, UEFA head of technical education & development

Under-15 & Under-16 development tournaments

Our development tournaments offer Under-15 and Under-16 boys and girls with the perfect opportunity to showcase their talents and gain vital international experience. We originally launched the tournaments as a pilot project in 2012, and have since helped to stage hundreds of such competitions, in which thousands of players have kickstarted their international career.

Elite youth academies

Watch:UEFA's elite youth academy programme in action

Since 2019, our elite youth academy scheme has provided tailor-made support to help national associations create the right conditions for talented young footballers to develop and maximise their potential.

Focusing on talented players in the Under-14, Under-15 and Under-16 age groups, the programme offers special support to small and medium-sized associations, forging strong ties between the national academies and local clubs and schools. This ensures young players’ technical, tactical and fitness training goes together with lessons in essential life skills, such as conduct, attitude and responsibility. They also receive access to psychological and nutritional advice and dedicated welfare officers.

Since taking part in the project, each of the participating associations has written their own success story. Both North Macedonia and Georgia have achieved qualification for UEFA EURO tournaments for the first time, Armenia earnt successive UEFA Nations League promotions and Israel reached the UEFA Under-19 EURO final.

"The support of UEFA was essential in setting up and developing the Academy to the high-performance environment it provides for our younger players today. The Academy has made a significant difference in the player development pathways for our younger players."

Michael O' Neill, Northern Ireland men's head coach