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Kuala Lumpur: The first Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Elite Youth Coaches Forum 2017 brought together Asia’s finest youth coaches, technical directors and experts in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to pave the way for football youth development in Asia.

AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John, in his opening remarks, said: “Today marks another significant milestone in our technical development journey. All of us in this room share a common belief: the investment in our youth players today will lead to a brighter future for Asian football tomorrow.

“As academy directors of the Continents best clubs, all of you here have a key role to play in improving the landscape of elite youth development. The AFC is here to listen to you, the technical directors, coaches and experts, to help us chart Asian football’s future together.

“This is a crucial time for Asian football, and you, as the ultimate specialists in youth club football, are in a key position to unlock the undeniable promise that exists in Asian football.

“As individuals, there is a limit to what we can accomplish. But together, I am confident that we will usher a new era of success for Asian football.”

The 13 club participants include representatives from Sydney FC, Guangzhou Evergrande, Al Hilal to name a few, and others from Australia, China PR, Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Korea Republic, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan.

Along with three observers from the Chinese Football Association, Japan Football Association and Korea Republic’s K League Classic, as well as AFC Consultant Robin Russell, they began by speaking on their main features and focus of their respective youth football academies before sharing on their problems and challenges such as funding, education and coaches.  

Andy Roxburgh, the AFC Technical Director who led the forum, then introduced the AFC Elite Youth Scheme, which will be launched at the end of the year.

The endorsement scheme will present the MAs with three progressive categories - basic (one-star), advanced (two-stars) and premier (three-stars) levels. In total, some 20 performance categories have been identified such as staffing, finance, facilities, coaching and psychology.

The structure aims to simulate a long-term commitment to embed an ethos of excellence in youth academies across the continent.

The forum then further deliberated on the ways the relationship between the clubs and the national youth teams can be improved, and the role AFC has to take to support elite youth development.

Photo: AFC