The national associations of the Republic of Ireland (FAI) and Northern Ireland (IFA) have provided a shining example of mutual co-operation, by co-hosting a national edition of the UEFA Certificate in Football Management (UEFA CFM) education programme.
The two neighbouring associations have staged the third seminar in their joint edition of this programme, which is giving staff from football associations and other stakeholders the opportunity to enhance their skills in learning about a wide variety of football management issues. The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland edition is the first in the pan-European programme in which two associations have served as joint hosts.
Thirty-four participants – 16 from the Republic of Ireland, 13 from Northern Ireland, two each from Gibraltar and Scotland, and one from Wales – came to Dundalk on 14 December for the latest seminar, which focussed on event management, including the planning, preparation and running of UEFA Champions League and senior international matches.
The nine-month UEFA CFM programme involves six interactive online modules and three face-to-face seminars, and includes studies in football organisation, strategy and strategic management, operational management, marketing and sponsorship, communications, media and public relations and event management.
"Everyone has put in a tremendous amount, and hopefully you have all got a lot out," IFA chief executive Patrick Nelson told the participants at their graduation ceremony.
"You have been learning about aspects of the football business that you may not come across in your day jobs, and hopefully that’s good for everybody. Everyone also knows that UEFA invests time and intellectual capital in projects such as this, so that people can be better football administrators."
The Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration (IDHEAP) at the University of Lausanne awards the UEFA CFM certificates, and the course is prepared and conducted by respected academics from universities in France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
"It’s a great initiative to give this level of training to our own staff, and to share it with other associations," said the FAI's head of human resources, Pat McGinty. "[Graduates] are receiving a European qualification. The real benefits might only be seen in the months and years ahead, and maybe this [UEFA CFM edition] has created ambitions within yourselves to look at other roles."
One of the programme's professors, Raymond Boyle, reminded everyone that the FAI and IFA had joined forces for this education programme at a moment when the two associations were both looking forward to competing in next summer's UEFA EURO 2016 final tournament – Northern Ireland for the first time ever.
"As they look forward to playing a full part in a football carnival next summer," Boyle reflected, "there has never been a better time than this for the two associations to build on their positive relations."
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