The FIFA Talent Development Scheme (TDS) led by FIFA Chief of Global Football Development, Arsène Wenger, will now move forward to the phase of full implementation with the aim of helping member associations to fulfil their potential by ensuring that every talented player has a chance to be detected and developed. The main goal of the TDS is to help raise the standards of national-team football around the world for both men and women, driven by FIFA’s desire for a long-term dedication to global talent development. ALSO READ: FIFA says to set up academy in every country “This is a fundamental step towards the objective of enhancing the competitiveness of national teams globally. We have a coordinated, holistic and scientific approach to developing talent pathways across the entire world in order to give every talent a chance,” said Wenger. “We want to go into the countries, we want to send our coaches, we want to create an academy or a centre of excellence in every country and, therefore, develop talent over a four-year span. For that reason, 2023 will be a very important year for us.” In December 2022, the FIFA Council approved a funding allocation of $200 million to cover the 2023-2026 operational lifecycle of this ground-breaking initiative, and at its most recent meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 14, the Council also approved a set of regulations laying out the principles and distribution of funding and the process of approval, as well as the rights and obligations of member associations. The TDS was presented in greater detail at the FIFA Congress on March 16 and was warmly welcomed by the delegates in attendance. Bespoke support The TDS operational lifecycle is intended to provide member associations, during the 2023-2026 period, with both financial and non-financial resources via fully bespoke consulting services in the fields of talent development and high performance. As of April 2023, all member associations will be able to apply to participate on a yearly basis. Each member association whose participation in the TDS operational lifecycle is approved will receive an annual contribution of $50,000 to cover associated operational costs. In addition, participating member associations may submit an application for funding under one or more of the annual bespoke FIFA talent programmes to support specific projects related to their strategic long-term development plan. Focus on academies The main focus of the TDS will be to invest in academies – to set up at least one academy or centre of excellence in every member association by 2026 – and national teams, talent identification, elite coaches and structured competitions. “Every member association is different so we will define measurable targets with them. We want more good examples, like Morocco or Japan, to show that long-term planning pays off. We want every country to ensure that the best train with the best, and we want to build the best possible environment for them,” said Wenger. The FIFA Talent Coach Programme will be another important element of the TDS as member associations will be entitled to apply for a FIFA talent coach, who will set up and deliver training of selected young players and local coaches. The ambition is that by the end of the 2023-2026 cycle, all member associations will have at least one high-performing academy/centre of excellence for players between the ages of 12 and 15/16. Seven pilot countries (Kyrgyz Republic, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Benin, South Africa, Fiji and Finland) have already been chosen to kick start the programme, and the first seven FIFA talent coaches began their work in January 2023. Close to 200 member associations have applied for the TDS and around 170 have already endorsed a long-term plan. The Training Centre – FIFA’s online educational platform – is as the go-to place for top-class technical information together with the Technical Development Platform, which member associations will use to apply and register for FIFA’s programmes.