UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin has visited FYR Macedonia to open new youth academy premises, and praised the Football Federation of Macedonia (FFM) for the quality of its development work.
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UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin has visited FYR Macedonia for the inauguration of new Football Federation of Macedonia (FFM) youth academy accommodation facilities.
Mr Čeferin joined FFM president Ilcho Gjorgjioski and FYR Macedonia's deputy prime minister in charge of economic affairs, Kocho Angjushev, for the opening of the premises, which form part of the association's House of Football complex.
The new facilities for the country's young footballers have been opened amid recent intensive cooperation between UEFA and the FFM within the UEFA elite youth development programme.
FYR Macedonia has been part of the initial pilot project for the UEFA programme, which is assisting Europe's national associations to develop elite players. UEFA has provided funding to help cover the running costs of a football academy for young players, establish a technical programme, and develop training standards to help the youngsters' development.
UEFA has also been in regular contact with the FFM to monitor progress, offer support and share technical, educational and managerial know-how.
Overall, football in FYR Macedonia is developing in encouraging fashion. The capital Skopje hosted the UEFA Super Cup match between Real Madrid and Manchester United last August, and the national Under-21 team qualified for last summer's European Under-21 Championship final tournament in Poland – the first time that the country had qualified for UEFA finals.
"I would like to congratulate the FFM," said Mr Čeferin. "With UEFA's support, it has implemented great projects for football development in the country.
"Three stadiums have been renovated, together with the National Arena that hosted the UEFA Super Cup match. [The country] has the conditions and the base for football progress. The number of football pitches is increasing, the infrastructure is developing.
“The FFM has developed a football academy for young players. There is football talent in this country."
"Today is a big day, not just for the Football Federation of Macedonia, but also for Macedonian football in general," said Mr Gjorgjioski.
"We have developed a [youth] programme with a unique desire – to prepare our young footballers for coming times, as a school of the future," he added.
"Most of our efforts have been focused on the football academy. Our coaches are constantly improving their knowledge, in order to give the best possible education to the young footballers."
Mr Gjorgjioski emphasised the excellent relationship between the FFM and UEFA. "They are our partners," he said. "They truly care for real football values; they give full support to their member associations."