Major League Soccer today announced the fourth iteration of its groundbreaking partnership with the French Football Federation (FFF) that will provide 20 experienced MLS youth academy coaches with world-class training through a yearlong youth development course resulting in participants earning their Elite Formation Coaching License (EFCL). One of the coaches selected is Atlanta’s U14s coach, Steven Covino, who has been with the club’s academy since its first season. He becomes the academy’s third coach to take part in the program, joining Tony Annan and Matt Lawrey.
The initiative places participants through the same course and training demands the FFF mandates of its domestic coaches but customized for North America’s needs, accelerating Major League Soccer’s collective expertise in player development. The program incorporates features unique to each MLS market allowing coaches to better serve their respective club with learnings from this continuing coaching education course. Created in 2013, the partnership has already seen more than 60 coaches graduate through the program to earn an EFCL license.
Officials from MLS gathered in Paris in June to meet with French Football Federation President Noël Le Graët to officially renew the partnership and extend the pledge to offer mutually beneficial resources. The partnership with the FFF promotes an exchange of best practices and experiences in youth development. Program methods include on-field training sessions, classroom instruction and development of strategic academy growth through seminars with academy directors and coaches from the various international clubs and federations participating.
“Major League Soccer is committed to becoming a leader in the area of player development, and the continued partnership with the French Football Federation provides an important learning opportunity and world class education for our elite academy coaches,” said MLS Vice President & Technical Director, Youth Development Fred Lipka. “Since announcing the partnership six years ago, we have already seen its tremendous impact on our player development system, laying a strong foundation of expertise throughout our academies. We are incredibly excited to continue this process as these coaches continue to raise the standard of academies throughout the league.”
The EFCL program consists of three parts:
- FFF course with a week of intensive field and classroom instruction at the Clairefontaine national training facility in France and an additional four weeks of domestic training in the United States and Canada
- European Club Observations – One week of immersion at an international youth academy at one of the following clubs: Inter Milan (Italy), Benfica (Portugal), Anderlecht (Belgium), Espanyol de Barcelona (Spain), Olympique Lyonnais (France), AS Saint Etienne (France), FC Metz (France), RC Strasbourg (France), FC Lorient (France)
- Integration of the Program with MLS Academy – Creation and/or modification of the Club’s youth curriculum and evaluation system for the development of players
The EFCL program begins in Clairefontaine for a week of training followed by a week of European club immersion where coaches will receive rigorous hands on instruction from club management on training styles from top to bottom of the academy. Following several installments of coaching sessions in the United States and Canada during the following months, participants will return to Clairefontaine 12 months later for a final week of evaluation. In order to complete the EFCL program, each participating coach must secure a CSA or USSF A coaching license in advance of the final exam at the end of the 12-month period. At the conclusion of the program, all passing participants will receive an Elite Formation Coaching License.
EFCL MLS CLUB PARTICIPANTS