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President Simeon-Okraku opens FIFA Talent Development Scheme Workshop in Accra

1 month ago
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The President of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), Kurt Edwin Simeon-Okraku, has opened the FIFA Talent Development Scheme (TDS) Knowledge Exchange Program which started in Accra on Monday June 17, 2024.

Speaking at the opening of the five-day FIFA Knowledge Exchange Workshop at the Marriot Hotel in Accra, President Simeon-Okraku shared some details on the Ghana Football Association's implementation of the FIFA Talent Development Scheme launched by FIFA in 2020.

He highlighted several thematic areas being implemented such as the establishment of National Academies, introduction of National Elite Competitions and comprehensive development programmes.

The President addressed the need for a robust, equitable and comprehensive talent identification and development framework.

"We have strategically set up our new national academy in the Upper East region, specifically in Bolgatanga, the regional capital. We are in the process of finalizing the setting up of our second national academy in the Ashanti region. By the end of this year, we will establish a third academy in the Greater Accra Region. For those who are not familiar with the geography of Ghana, these three regions are based in the north [Upper East], the middle portion [Ashanti] and the south [Greater Accra] of Ghana. ," President Simeon-Okraku said

"These academies are designed to implement the right scouting, development programs, and career pathways. They will serve as the foundational pillars in Ghana’s mission to nurture the next generation of players for our national teams, providing them with the necessary resources, coaching, and environment to excel."

"Ghana currently has a vibrant Colts [Juvenile] Football program for boys. After a regular season in which clubs throughout the regions engage in competitions for U13, U15 and U17 boys, the topmost talents discovered in each region are put together in regional teams which play in the KGL Inter-regional Under-17 football championship. This competition is the climax for each Colts Football season and witnesses a very heavy turnout of football fans and other professionals involved with the game; who patronize the tournament to watch the budding talents presented by each region. Going forward, we are launching the U18 Elite League and the U19 Elite Cup, which will provide another layer of competition for young male players to hone their skills, gain exposure, and compete at a high level."

"Recognizing the importance of female participation in football, we are also introducing a new U15 Elite League for girls. This initiative underscores our commitment to developing female football talent from an early age and ensuring gender inclusivity in our developmental programs,"

The President of the GFA outlined a systematic developmental pathway hinged on scouting and recruitment as well as the National DNA for Talent Development as key pillars in the drive towards ensuring that every football talent gets a chance to access the developmental opportunities in Ghana Football.

"Our academies and competitions are underpinned by rigorous scouting processes to identify and nurture talent from across the country. We are committed to providing equal opportunities for all young players, regardless of their background," President Simeon-Okraku highlighted.

"By integrating advanced training methodologies, educational support, and personal development programs, we aim to create well rounded footballers who are prepared for both the professional and personal challenges of a football career. Through these initiatives, the GFA is dedicated to creating a sustainable and progressive framework for elite youth development, ensuring that Ghana remains a formidable force in the world of football for generations to come. We are enthusiastic about the future and confident that these efforts will yield a vibrant and successful footballing legacy for our nation."

"The pivotal pathways I have just outlined would lead to the creation of a wide pool of talent for selection into our national teams. To ensure that we capture as many talents as we can within our National team system, we have introduced several new age category national teams to support the already existing ones which represent Ghana in international competitions. Our innovative approach to the national team programme and structure is designed to harness and nurture talent across all age groups, ensuring a seamless progression to our senior national teams. We have expanded our national youth development framework to include five new teams, making a total of eight teams. These range from the National U15 to the U23 levels. This expansion reflects our commitment to providing continuous and structured development opportunities for our young talents."

"Our national DNA emphasizes a unified playing style, training methodologies, and developmental ethos across all age groups. This consistency ensures that players are groomed within a system that aligns with the demands and expectations of the senior national team. Our approach emphasizes not just the technical and tactical aspects of football but also the personal and psychological development of our players. Through our expanded national team structure, we aim to leave no stone unturned in identifying and nurturing talent from all corners of the country."

The President touched on the landmark Technical Centre of the Ghana Football Association, which has seen a massive facelift and installation of floodlights while highlighting the impact of youth capacity programmes such as the Catch Them Young Refereeing Policy.

"We have enhanced our Technical Centre located at Prampram in the Greater Accra Region and aim to build five new Community football pitches. Under the FIFA Forward Program, we have recently installed floodlights at one of our football pitches at the Technical Centre and this has increased the capacity of the Center to host multiple training activities for both our national teams and other training programs for Referees, Coaches and other Professionals involved with the game," he remarked.

"Ghana instituted an innovative scheme to discover and train Referees at a young age. This scheme is called the “Catch Them Young” Referees Project and it has been very successful, producing young Referees who have officiated games in our second tier league as well as the Women’s Leagues."

"Through FIFA’s Member Association Young Talent Capacity Building programs, Young Male Referees have been trained with their female counterparts set to have their turn later this month."

The Ghana Football Association is confident the foundation being laid will help to achieve consistent success in international competition, develop World-Class Talent, improve holistic Player Development, Strengthen Domestic Football, Infrastructure Development, Promotion of Women’s Football (Gender Inclusivity) and Enhanced Governance and Professionalism, amongst others.

The General Secretary of the GFA, Prosper Harrison Addo, Technical Director Professor Joseph Kwame Mintah, Head of Women's Football Development, Jennifer Amankwa Sarpong and Head of Talent Identification and Development of the GFA,  Papa Nii Lartey, led a dialogue on pathways for talent development.

With the aim of helping Member Associations (MA's) reach their full potential and ensuring that all talented players are given the chance to develop and be discovered, the scheme seeks to create a sustainable legacy for long-term player development, maximising the opportunities provided in each participating member association.

Launched in January 2020 by FIFA, the programme aims to provide Member Associations with a thorough analysis of their high performance ecosystem in both men’s and women’s football, including all national teams, domestic leagues, scouting projects and academies, in order to ensure that every talented player gets a chance to reach their full potential.

FIFA expects to focus on the implementation of tailor-made technical programmes for each Member Association with a view to tackling potential challenges and maximising the comparative advantages that each Association possesses.

The FIFA Talent Development Scheme Workshop, which is being run in Ghana from Monday June 17 to Friday June 21, 2024 at the Marriot Hotel, Airport - Accra, is being attended by 17 Member Associations from Africa.

The Ghana Football Association is heavily represented at the five-day seminar which began today June 17 and ends on Friday June 21, 2024.

General Secretary, Prosper Harrison Addo, Deputy General Secretary in charge of Administration, Ama Brobey-Williams, Technical Director, Professor Joseph Kwame Mintah, Director of the Ghana FA Elite Training Academy, Joseph Tetteh Zutah, Head of Public Relations and Strategy, Neil Armstrong-Mortagbe,, Head of Talent Identification and Development of the GFA Papa Nii Lartey as well as Head of Women's Football Development, Jennifer Amankwa Sarpong were present at the Opening Session of the workshop.

Chief of Staff, Michael Osekre and some senior figures and staff members also attended Monday's workshop in Accra.

GFA Communications