This week marks the start of UEFA's Captains of Change programme as the participants aim to develop projects for diversity and inclusion in football management.

UEFA's Captains of Change programme gets under way this week with participants aiming to develop their projects for diversity and inclusion in football management across Europe.

Candidates working for a national association or UEFA partner organisation will present their project proposals at the start of the first sessions. They will then be guided through strategies on change management, project sculpting and leadership during group work sessions.

"We're looking forward to sharing our proposed programme," said Malta Football Association (MFA) deputy general secretary Maria Mifsud. "We'll get the important opportunity to learn from other countries and cultures and make any changes to help it become a success.

"We're pleased that the week will give us the chance to spend some time with staff who are directly involved in this programme as it encourages us to develop these programmes, knowing we have the full support of UEFA. This will help us in our mission and, if implemented successfully, the game in Malta will benefit. It will also contribute towards one of our ultimate objectives: to make the Malta Football Association the leader in equality and diversity in European football."

As well as being given the tools to implement their individual diversity initiatives, participants will take inspiration from Clarence Seedorf, UEFA global ambassador for diversity and change, Joyce Cook, managing director of CAFE (Centre for Access to Football in Europe), and Piara Powar, executive director of FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe). Programme ambassador Christian Karembeu will join UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino in closing the week's activities.

"Captains of Change was created to encourage more diversity in football and we will see some significant steps from that in the first project proposals," said Mr Infantino. "While football is diverse on the field of play, we're working to extend that to the administration and management of the game and in that sense, this is a programme that can change the landscape of the sport."

The project implementation will be monitored, with follow-ups taking place in the spring followed by the completion and celebration of this first edition of the programme. Consultation between the participant, their line manager/CEO or general secretary, a UEFA representative and member of the programme team will happen in February, and UEFA will also help to finance some of the schemes that are launched as a result.

"Leadership and responsibility have to be shown for real change within football bodies," said Filip Popovski, general secretary of the Football Association of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FFM). "Our participation in the programme will have an impact as an initiator of change by strengthening the collaboration between all of its stakeholders and leading towards the inclusion of, in our case, women and disabled people."

"The Captains of Change programme will lay a path that others will follow, providing input, knowledge and a network that will be important for our projects," added Henrik Lunde, deputy manager of the development department at the Football Association of Norway (NFF). "UEFA implementing it will strengthen the credibility of our diversity strategies. We're not alone. We stand together with UEFA and national associations across Europe.

Published 21/01/2015