European football's governing body begins an innovative new initiative to strengthen leadership and managerial skills across UEFA's member associations.
The first seminar of the new UEFA Diploma in Football Leadership and Management (DFLM) has been taking place at UEFA's headquarters in Nyon.
The programme is aimed at providing core leadership and managerial skills to staff in management positions within UEFA's member associations who have graduated from the UEFA Certificate in Football Management (UEFA CFM) programme.
UEFA moved to set up the DFLM following feedback from Europe's national associations. European football's governing body learned that participants had enjoyed undertaking the UEFA CFM, but wanted to know – what was next?
"We have the MESGO [Executive Master in Sport Governance] programme, but we want to keep this for people at a senior executive level in member associations," said UEFA's head of national association education and research Thomas Junod.
"Therefore, we had a feeling that there was something of a gap between the CFM and MESGO, and this is why we decided to introduce the UEFA Diploma in Football Leadership and Management to invest in the high potential of staff in our member associations."
The DFLM prioritises the learning of soft skills and looks to tap into the potential of the national associations, so participants can subsequently take what they have learned and undertake complex projects within their own fields.
Participants apply to attend the programme with a project relating to their national association's strategy, and which can be used for the face-to-face seminar work and e-learning modules. They are also assigned an experienced coach who will advise them on project management as well as soft skills and self-awareness.
"I finished the CFM course, which was of great benefit to me, and I particularly liked the fact the DFLM is focused on projects, which is something I am professionally interested in," said Tomislav Pacak, spokesman for the Croatian Football Federation (HNS), and one of the participants in the first edition of the DFLM.
"I am not at a stage where I want to study theory too much, but I want to meet people from other national associations, where I can gain some experience and grow my network."
Gerhard Aigner, who was UEFA General Secretary and CEO from 1989 to 2003, was a guest speaker at the opening seminar. He emphasised the importance for any sporting organisation of strong leaders, and underlined what participants could gain from the course.
"Leadership is always an important thing, if not the most important factor in any organisation, and leadership is best described by the way a person acts," he said.
"It is very positive to have these programmes, and it is very important that this is happening in the context of football. These meetings are important for the participants to share their views and experiences, and this is adding to their own capacity to become leaders in the future."
UEFA already invests considerable financial resources into assisting its member associations through the HatTrick development scheme, which has helped associations develop their sporting and administrative infrastructures at all levels.
However, with this new leadership and management programme, UEFA intends to ensure that these key skills are strengthened within the national FAs.
"UEFA's core mission is to protect, develop and promote football," said Junod. "With this goal in mind, we provide opportunities to our member associations to invest not only in the infrastructure and specific projects but also into the development of the people working in the game."