MLS teams up with French Football Federation to bolster youth development in the US


Major League Soccer (MLS) and the French Football Federation (FFF) are partnering together for a 16-month youth development course.

The two organizations have announced a partnership that will provide the coaches of the MLS youth academy with world class training through the 16 month development course to earn their Elite Formation Coaching License (EFCL).


The FFF will host the MLS delegation at its the INF Clairefontaine in France and guide the youth directors through the same program as the one it provides its domestic coaches. The EFCL program will, however, include customized features developed by MLS, US Soccer and the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA).

Serving as the liaison between the FFF instructors and the MLS, US Soccer and CSA will be Fred Lipka – the former director of the Paris Racing Academy and the Le Havre Athletic Club.

Lipka will be traveling to each MLS club to review their youth academies and help guide the candidates through the sessions to obtain their formation licenses.

MLS executive vice president of player relations and competition, Todd Durbin, said in a statement:

“We are incredibly excited about this new partnership with the French Football Federation.

“As part of our vision to be among the top leagues in the world by 2022, we are committed to becoming leaders in the area of player development.

“This initiative will provide an important learning opportunity for MLS youth academies.”

The program will consist of three parts:

  1. 1 – FFF Course:

  2. 320 hours of field and classroom instructions spread over eight weeks.

  3. 2 – European Club Observations:

  4. Two weeks of immersion at an international youth academy at two of the following clubs: PSG, Lyon, Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, VfB Stuttgart.

  5. 3 – Integration Of The Program With MLS Academy:

  6. The club’s youth curriculum and evaluation system for the development of players will be created and/or modified.

Each club from the MLS have nominated one coach from their academy to participate in the program. There are eight former MLS players among the candidates: Danny Dichio, Luchi Gonzalez, Jovan Kirovski, Chris Leitch, Darren Sawatzky, Billy Thompson, Greg Vanney and John Wolyniec.

FFF technical director, Francois Blaquart said in a statement:

“Through our partnership with MLS, The French Football Federation is proud and excited to be engaged in such a marvelous project.

“The expectations of MLS are very high and the FFF technical department is greatly honored to be selected in this area.

“Our commitment with MLS will be the foundation for concrete and great development between U.S. and French football, as it mirrors the long term friendship between France and the United States.”

Timeline Of MLS Development Course:

  • February 25th – March 1st: Session 1 at Clairefontaine
  • March 2nd – 8th: European Club Observation # 1
  • June: Sessions 2 and 3 in the United States
  • September: Sessions 4 and 5 at Clairefontaine
  • September: European Club Observation # 2
  • February/March 2014: Sessions 6 and 7 in the United States
  • May/June 2014: Session 8 at Clairefontain
  • July 2014: Begin integration of program into MLS academies
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