Kazakhstan is ready to unveil an ambitious new football development strategy focusing on the youth and grassroots sectors, and aimed at giving fresh impetus to the country’s footballing progress.
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A delegation from the Kazakhstan Football Federation (KFF), led by president Adilet Barmenkulov, has visited UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, to highlight the association’s objectives and discuss ways that UEFA could help the KFF achieve its aims and targets.
“We are at the stage of approving a new strategy for the development of football in the Republic of Kazakhstan,” said Mr Barmenkulov, whose team held fruitful talks with UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin and senior officials from various UEFA departments.
“All those agreements that we have reached with [President Čeferin] are aimed at achieving the goals indicated in our strategy,” he added. “They cover such key topics as education, training of coaches, improvement of football infrastructure for grassroots football, and development of youth football.”
Final tournament wish
Kazakhstan has expressed a particular wish to host European youth tournaments – giving additional momentum to the development of youth football as one of the priority tasks laid down in the KFF’s overall development drive.
“It is very important for us that the projects prepared within the framework of this strategy are evaluated, including by foreign experts,” said Mr Barmenkulov. “We really appreciate the support that UEFA gives us.”
Kazakhstan, admitted to UEFA in 2002, has been especially grateful to UEFA for its crucial decision in 2020 to lift conditions on the release of funds to its 55 member associations via the UEFA HatTrick development programme – a move which has helped associations limit the economic impact of the COVID pandemic.
Progress and standing
Kazakhstan has made significant footballing progress over the years, with the Astana club reaching the UEFA Champions League group stage in 2015/16 and UEFA Europa League group stages in 2016/17 and 2018/19. The national team currently lead their UEFA Nations League group with 10 points from four matches, including home-and-away wins against Slovakia.
Important successes have been achieved in futsal – Kairat Almaty won the UEFA Futsal Cup (forerunner of the UEFA Futsal Champions League) in 2013 and 2015 and were runners-up in 2019. Almaty has staged two UEFA Futsal Cup finals (2010/11 and 2016/17) and the UEFA Futsal Champions League finals in 2018/19. Meanwhile, the national futsal team won the bronze medal on their UEFA Futsal EURO debut in 2016, and finished fourth in 2018.
Kazakhstan's status within the European football community was further confirmed when it staged the 38th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Astana in March 2014.
“Our country has great football potential,” Mr Barmenkulov emphasised. “All projects in the development strategy are aimed at the fullest disclosure and realisation of this potential.”
During the visit to Nyon, the KFF presented a project for the development of grassroots football in Kazakhstan including, among others, the further improvement of grassroots infrastructures. UEFA has pledged its readiness to provide comprehensive support in the implementation of the project.
In addition, as part of the UEFA GROW programme, the KFF will be provided with significant UEFA assistance in the implementation of research on Social Return on Investment (SROI) projects, given that studies have shown the effectiveness of financial resources invested in the development of football.
Meanwhile, UEFA will continue to support football through the strengthening of educational courses for coaches and the development of a specific project for a KFF national academy.
In November this year, within the framework of the UEFA Assist and UEFA Academy programmes, a STEP (Senior Team Executive Programme) educational seminar will be organised for Kazakhstan specialists with the involvement of leading experts from UEFA and neighbouring countries.
This will be followed next year by training organised for the first time in Kazakhstan as part of the CFM (Certificate in Football Management) educational project, which is being implemented by UEFA together with the University of Lausanne (Switzerland). The start of the project is scheduled for February 2023.