The latest trends in grassroots football, the main outcomes of the activities organised during the 2011-2014 cycle and the key objectives for 2015-2018 were among the main points discussed at a landmark four-day FIFA grassroots seminar at the Spanish FA’s (RFEF) Ciudad del Fútbol in Madrid that concluded on Friday, 27 February 2015, with the participation of 41 FIFA instructors and technical development officers from 35 countries as well as technical representatives from all confederations.

Between 2011 and 2014, some 300 grassroots courses and festivals were organised and 15,000 coaches trained by FIFA in 143 countries, and more than 350 such events are scheduled to take place over the next four years. The grassroots budget has been increased from USD 8 million (2011-2014) to 10.5 million (2015-2018). A total of 60,000 youngsters have taken part in FIFA grassroots festivals to date, with 80,000 more expected by 2018.

During the seminar, the FIFA experts defined the two key priorities for the next four years: to establish self-sufficient, long-term grassroots projects in cooperation with the member associations and to increase the scope of countries benefiting from grassroots activities. Further topics discussed were the creation of grassroots synergies with the confederations and the facilitation of a pathway between grassroots and youth football at both amateur and elite level.

“Beyond the organisation of courses and festivals, the experience acquired in the past years confirms the importance of having the member associations setting up mid- and long-term projects in cooperation with local stakeholders such as clubs, schools, government authorities and sponsors. At FIFA, we support such initiatives with updated teaching materials, equipment, regular technical follow-ups and advice on marketing and communication matters,” said Jürg Nepfer, FIFA Head of Education and Technical Development.

“Grassroots activities play a fundamental social role too, as I noticed during a course and festival that I had the opportunity to conduct in Somalia in 2013. Bringing children into football through a well-established grassroots platform is key to the development of our sport, particularly when it is practised in challenging conditions,” commented FIFA’s Seychelles-born instructor Ulric Mathiot.

“The first-ever FIFA grassroots course to be held in Venezuela in November 2014 served to bring the latest developments in grassroots football to the country, with a view to setting up a long-term project by the national association that will be supported by the excellent infrastructure I found at the technical centre on Isla Margarita,” added Chilean instructor and former player Víctor Hugo Fuentes.

From a technical point of view, the courses will focus on small-sided games that require a greater involvement and enable children to learn more quickly and take more decisions during the course of a match. Aspects such as goalkeeping and tactical formations will be incorporated at a later stage.

The FIFA grassroots seminar concluded with a festival involving about 160 children from the Spanish FA football academy.