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UEFA and FIFA bring technical directors together

European technical directors meet in Leeds to share best practices. Collaboration key to expansion and development of technical roles.

Some of Europe’s top technical directors have met in Leeds, in the heart of England, for a collaborative workshop hosted by UEFA and FIFA.

The three-day meeting, which marked the first time that the two governing bodies have held a technical workshop since 2009, focused on increased partnership and the development of the technical director’s role across European national associations.

FIFA’s head of technical leadership Jamie Houchen and UEFA head of technical development Frank Ludolph led the workshop, with sessions hosted by both organisations.

“It’s great to align the two organisations and combine our support for the technical director workforce,” said Houchen. “It’s the start of a long-term investment into the professional development of technical directors. Our aim is to make this support bespoke to the role and focus on the individual needs of technical leaders in Europe. We will do this through a new educational pathway and professional qualification.”

Ludolph, who has worked for UEFA for over two decades, reiterated the importance of the role for the future development of the game in Europe. “The role and impact of the technical directors is crucial, not only within their respective national environments, but also for the future of European football. The technical directors are key, because they are responsible for defining and leading the technical development programmes of the individual national associations”.

Ludolph underlined the crucial need for a long-term mindset for those in the role, reminding all in attendance that “frontline coaches try to win the next game, technical directors try to win the next decade.”

Former Latvia striker Marians Pahars, who was installed as technical director at the Latvian Football Federation six months ago, was one of the newer technical directors in attendance in Leeds. The former Southampton forward was eager to develop his knowledge from his more experienced colleagues as he seeks to implement his own beliefs on Latvian football.

“I’m an open person, and I share my experience with pleasure,” said Pahars. “I share my knowledge, and if someone is interested in any kind of information, I’d love to give it.”

There is always more to learn, even for successful national associations such as Switzerland, whose senior men’s team has qualified for the past five FIFA World Cups. “I want to go further, I want to improve myself,” said Patrick Bruggmann from the Swiss Football Association. “And this is the perfect occasion to see other colleagues and to talk about the problems they have and the solutions they have, so that I can grow personally as a technical leader.”

The UEFA Women's EURO 2022 has been taking place in England over the past month, and workshop delegates had the chance to watch the hosts’ 4-0 semi-final win over Sweden. England’s display highlighted the development of women’s football, and was particularly thrilling for the English Football Association’s technical director John McDermott. “The technical prowess of the players, the physical prowess – I thought it was fantastic,” he said.

“Obviously, England came out on top, but I thought the overall quality of the game was really good. And, I think for colleagues where the women’s game hasn’t yet reached similar popularity and levels as it has here in England, we were all agreed about how inspirational the experience was.”

In conclusion, Hansreudi Hasler, the well-known former Swiss FA technical director, stated that “this position of technical director is the best job in the world.” He encouraged all participants to step up to the challenge to make a long-term impact for the benefit of football and their own national associations.