• FIFA Technical Experts’ Workshop 2018 being held in Doha this week
  • Part of FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s “FIFA 2.0” strategy
  • New FIFA programme to improve technical excellence part of focus

A bright sun illuminates the January sky in Doha. A warm wind means that temperatures are around 20 degrees Celsius – perfect football weather in other words, in the country that is set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup™. Not far from the Aspire Academy, in which the best young sportsmen in the land are training in the hope of playing in their home tournament, the laughter of children rings out. While a junior team is studying various different game scenarios and hanging on every word of their coach, Deema and Amir are busy chasing around after a ball in the nearby park.

At the tender age of two, Amir looks as uncoordinated as you would expect, as he tries to control a pass from his six-year-old sister – no surprise when you consider that he has only just started to walk. Not that this has an impact on the fun that he is having. In four years’ time, they and thousands of others will be on hand to cheer on the best players from around the world at their home FIFA World Cup, enjoying what promises to be a veritable festival of football.

The worldwide family of football – or at least a small part of it – is already present in the Emirate on the Persian Gulf this week. The FIFA Technical Experts’ Workshop 2018 has brought 75 FIFA experts from 45 different countries to Doha for a seminar that will showcase part of Gianni Infantino’s “FIFA 2.0” strategy, designed to further develop the game, protect its integrity and ensure that it spreads to all four corners of the globe.

“The aim of the workshop – which is the first of its kind in five years – is to inform the various FIFA experts, with all their different backgrounds and specialisations, of our new ‘FIFA 2.0’ structure and philosophy, and also tell them about the recently introduced programme to improve technical excellence,” said Jurg Nepfer, FIFA Head of Technical Development Services. “Each national association has its own special challenges to deal with, and we intend to provide tailored programmes to meet these various needs.”

The workshop in Doha will focus on education and further training for technical directors and for men’s and women’s coaches from national associations, as well as the development of women’s football and promoting the game at youth and grassroots level.

“It is very important for us to get closer to the national associations, to help them achieve more autonomy and thus give our projects more sustainability,” said Nepfer. “In this context, working with the confederations, who are also represented here by their technical directors, is incredibly important.”

For both theoretical and practical activities, which will be worked on in plenary sessions and in smaller groups, the content of the current and future FIFA programmes will be discussed, with the focus on values such as transparency, belonging, responsibility and cooperation.

“When I look around here, I realise once again what it is that I love so much about football – it’s the diversity.” With these words, Mansoor Al Ansari, General Secretary of the Qatar Football Federation, greeted the guests from every continent who had come to Doha.

“Football is constantly changing and I am looking forward to this week,” said Minsk-born footballing legend Sergei Aleinikov. “It promises to be full of exchanges of ideas that will help us to improve,” he added. Meanwhile, FIFA expert Islam Akhmedov from Uzbekistan said: “The workshop offers us, the participants, the rare opportunity to meet and share our knowledge, all with the aim of driving football forward.”

Hong Kong-based FIFA expert Betty Wong was also excited to learn about recent innovations as well as exchanging ideas. “Women’s football has already come a long way in Hong Kong,” she said. “Before we had just the one national team and no grassroots football. Now we have a person who is responsible for women’s football within the national association, as well as stable financing, which enables us to give plenty of girls the chance to play football. The future is bright, and I’m really looking forward to sharing my experiences and at the same time getting inspiration from others.”

The workshop is a step towards extending the solid network of experts in various areas, and thus helping to implement FIFA’s goals, programmes and philosophies within the national associations around the world, whilst growing the game in the coming years in terms of quality and quantity. Deema and Amir will be among the ones who benefit from this – not that they know it at this precise moment. They are still out there playing in the park without a care in the world, kicking a ball around with a mixture of fascination and unbridled joy.