Youth Development

Development of Asia’s future stars takes centrestage

Thursday, November 14, 2019
AFC Youth Conference

Kuala Lumpur: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC)’s themed “Developing Talented Footballers: The Next Generation”, concluded in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Thursday – again demonstrating the AFC’s commitment to developing future stars. 

The 3rd AFC Youth Conference was attended by close to 100 delegates – among them some of the most experienced coaches of youth football in Asia.

Andy Roxburgh, the AFC Technical Director who led the Conference, set the tone on the first day with a keynote presentation on elite youth football titled ‘An Asian Adventure,’ which provided insights on the key elements and systems for youth coaches to achieve success.

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The analysis of Asian teams at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019 as well as FIFA’s review of the tournament were put under the microscope on the second day with a focus on Korea Republic’s remarkable second-place finish at the global showpiece in May.

Participants also obtained insights from an engaging session with AFC Ambassador and former Manchester United and Korea Republic star Park Ji-sung, Japan U-19 head coach Masanaga Kageyama, AFC Youth Coach of the Year, Abdulwahab Alharbi, and Malaysia’s Datuk Ong Kim Swee, who orchestrated Malaysia’s run to the final eight of the AFC U23 Championship last year.

Lebanese Football Association Technical Director, Bassem Mohamad said: “It has been an extremely motivational agenda and I have no doubts that the last three days have inspired every Member Association to improve.

“As a technical director, I am always looking to improve our youth teams and the Conference has educated me to strengthen our methods of teaching and training especially in terms of our philosophy and methodology.

“We were introduced to the experiences of other countries and it was valuable to understand the best practices and structures that have been successful in Asia. Our aim now is to transfer the knowledge, the different philosophies and viewpoints in youth coaching and education to help our colleagues.”

Continuous improvement was a common theme throughout the conference, with the AFC Elite Youth Scheme also in the spotlight.

Widely regarded as an important step in talent development, participants were given a first-hand overview of the way in which the Scheme was helping to stimulate and instill an ethos of excellence in youth academies across the Continent.

Mohd Ikhmarol Izzat Haji Omar, head coach of Brunei Darussalam’s U-16 and U-19 national teams said: “The biggest takeaway for me was: ‘We cannot buy success.’ Our young generation are our future, and it is only through long-term and sustainable pathways that we will be able to help them achieve success.

“In youth development, everyone wants to win, but development must be the priority because we are responsible for producing the next generation of players and we need to nurture them through the best possible pathway.”

The final day of the Conference concluded with an in-depth panel session with Stefan Majewski, Sporting Director at the Polish Football Association, before participants delved into an engaging discussion on the main ingredients required to develop tomorrow’s generation of players against the backdrop of current and future trends.

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