The Scottish FA West Region arranged a study trip to visit the Belgium FA in November 2015, with a group that consisted of 12 participants ranging from local football development officers, volunteers from grassroots clubs, and officers from local authorities.
The study trip was arranged in partnership with Jonas Heuts, Grassroots Manager of the Belgian FA, who provided the contacts and advice for the week’s activities, with the following objectives set:Examining Club Structures and Development
- Examining Competition Structures
- Examining Coach Education and Pathways
- Sharing best practice
Belgium was an ideal destination was the country’s success in the last 10 years in terms of player and club development.
The study trip commenced with a visit to the national Belgium FA HQ where a number of presentations were provided on the overall structure of the association. The group found these presentations very informative and it brought about a lot of discussion within the group around areas which could be taken forward.
Over the next two days of the trip, the group visited two different grassroots clubs and one professional club to examine the infrastructure and development. The main point taken from the group when visiting the clubs was the high level of community involvement; each club had its own philosophy, however all the clubs had full pathways involving all aspects of the game.
Day four of the trip involved a visit to the National Performance Centre hosted by the Director of Coach Education, which involved a series of presentations and workshops. These workshops opportunities allowed the group to discuss in-depth the different areas, share good practice and look at areas that could be developed when returning to Scotland.
The last two days involved a visit to the local Performance Schools, where the most talented young players had an opportunity to further enhance their skills. The Performance Schools were similar to the Scottish FA’s model but have been established for over 10 years - with a number of the current Belgium national squad being a product of the system. The final day involved visiting KV Mechelen where a number of the players involved in the performance school performed: this was a great opportunity to see all the week’s activities come together during a game environment.
The Scottish FA West Region group concluded that the purpose of the trip had been successful and had achieved all of the set objectives. The trip allowed participants to look at simple areas that could be changed, particularly enhancing the development of community clubs.
In conclusion, the support received from Erasmus+ has enabled further development and education to take place with the sharing of best practice. These opportunities will benefit the development of the game in the West Region, allowing for overall strategic objectives to be achieved.