1. DEVELOP A MODERN STRATEGY
The resounding success comes not by chance, he is the result of many years of work. Only a few months after finishing third at the World Cup in Russia, and thus the best in Belgium in its history, the Belgian Football Association (KBVB) presented an eleven-point plan to modernize its institution. In June 2019, the association then put together a comprehensive reform package: for the sporting and institutional aspects, the refereeing, the governance, the social and digital media, the finances. Nothing was spared.
2. HELP FROM OUTSIDE
For this second revolution, the Belgian association got support abroad. For refereeing, David Elleray, the former international referee from England, was commissioned to develop a master plan for the future. "Belgium is a country that has produced many top international referees. In 2010, this trend came to a standstill. The last time a Belgian whistled at a major tournament (Editor's note: Frank De Bleeckere), "said Elleray.
3. LONG-TERM FUTURE PLANNING
When not coaching the national team, Roberto Martinez works in his office in Tubize, a small town south of Brussels, where the national training center is located. Roberto Martinez plans far-sighted and his superiors fully support him: "With my work, I want to keep Belgium at the forefront of world football. At the same time, I also have to think about the future. That is why we have developed various programs to combine professional and amateur football. We are strongly supported by UEFA. "
4. THE WOMEN COME IN PLAY
Katrien Jans shares this opinion. The 34-year-old is responsible for women's football at the KBVB. In 2019, she and her team launched the five-year plan "The World at our Feet". A joint survey by the Belgian association and UEFA found that football is the third most popular sport among girls after tennis and swimming. By 2024, football should be number one. For Katrien Jans, all signs are green: "We have about 38,500 licensed players. Most of them are older than 18 years. The pyramid is upside down, and one of the pillars of our plan is to get girls ready for football as early as possible with matching structures. "
5. SUBJECT TO SOCIETY
There is no shortage of opportunities to be inspired by the country. One example is the Social Responsibility program, which was developed in 2016 and is based on four themes: integration, human rights, health and sustainability. This gives the people who are united behind the national team, something back. "It sounds like a cliche, but the program was created because football can change things in society," says Hedeli Sassi, who has been working for the Belgian Federation since 2017. "The national players reacted very positively to our initiatives. They have committed themselves and, among other things, recorded messages against discrimination. Of course that helps a lot, because they give you a hearing, "explains his colleague An De Kock.
Find out in a special report of the latest issue of opublic UEFA magazine UEFA Direct talks more about the Belgian success story and the hopes and future expectations of the country.