UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin has visited Belarus, and pledged UEFA's help to take the country's football development "reach a new level".
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UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin has paid a two-day visit to Belarus.
During the visit, a working meeting took place between Mr Čeferin and the President of the Republic of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, at the Palace of Independence in the capital Minsk. The UEFA President also held talks with senior management of the Belarus Football Federation (ABFF).
Discussions with Mr Lukashenko focused on a wide range of topics, with priority given to the country’s football infrastructure development.
“We have a good professional relationship with the association,” said Mr Čeferin. “We are friends, which is important. I am glad to see that sport in Belarus receives such support, and I am glad for football in particular.”
The UEFA President was making his first official visit to Belarus, and Aleksandr Lukashenko welcomed the opportunity to talk about football matters with Mr Čeferin. “We hope that our relations will broaden,” Mr Lukashenko said after the meeting.
Mr Čeferin went on to meet with the ABFF President Vladimir Bazanov at the country’s House of Football. The meeting centred on infrastructure questions, the development of youth and grassroots football, UEFA’s assistance to Belarus under its HatTrick programme, and co-operation between UEFA and Belarus under the UEFA GROW programme aimed at helping the progress of Europe's national associations and maximising their potential. “It is necessary to invest in youth development and infrastructure, and UEFA will help in every way,” said the UEFA President, who added that football development incentives would “allow Belarus to reach a new level.”
“I am glad to welcome Aleksander Čeferin and his colleagues to Belarus,” said Vladimir Bazanov. “The [UEFA] President has 55 associations, each of which he must visit and see the state of affairs and, if necessary, help…and he helps us a lot.”
GROW has been working with the ABFF to develop a public affairs plan so that a strategic relationship can be built with government and municipalities. In addition, GROW and UEFA's grassroots programme have funded grassroots coach education courses, and have also been cooperating on a club development pilot programme - working with various clubs to offer football opportunities to youngsters. One of the successes within UEFA’s HatTrick assistance to Belarus has been the construction, helped by UEFA funding, of a high-quality technical centre for the country’s national teams.
Belarus hosted the most recent UEFA Grassroots Conference in Minsk in June. In addition, UEFA and the ABFF launched a joint one-year project in 2018 aimed, among others, at developing the country’s grassroots football activities and increasing participation.
Since 2014, UEFA's elite youth development programme has been instrumental in helping foster talented young players in Belarus as part of a pilot project featuring three other associations - Armenia, Georgia and North Macedonia. Each of the FAs received UEFA funding to help cover the costs of a football academy for U14/15 players, set up technical programmes and enhance standards of training.