Mike Smith, Timbers Academy, 9.20.12
Photo by L.M. Parr

MLS announces partnership with French Football Federation, Timbers Academy co-director Mike Smith to participate in development course

Major League Soccer and the French Football Federation (FFF) have announced a partnership aimed at providing MLS academy coaches with world class training through a 16-month development course and earning their Elite Formation Coaching License.

The FFF will host the MLS delegation at its Clairefontaine national training facility and guide the youth directors through the same program as the one it provides its domestic coaches; however, the EFCL program will include customized features developed by MLS, the United States Soccer Federation and the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA).

The Portland Timbers are sending Timbers Academy co-director Mike Smith to participate in the program. 

"We are incredibly excited about this new partnership with the French Football Federation,” said MLS executive vice president of player relations & competition Todd Durbin in a statement. "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."

READ: Postcard from France: Smith arrives at Clairfontaine

The course will feature eight weeks of coursework, a two-week immersion at the academy of a number of major European teams, including Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao and Paris Saint-German and an eventual integration into the MLS academy system. In Smith's case, he will be observing the inner workings of PSG during his time in Europe.

“Through our partnership with MLS, The French Football Federation is proud and excited to be engaged in such a marvelous project,” said FFF technical director François Blaquart in a statement. "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 US and French football, as it mirrors the long term friendship between France and the United States."

Each MLS club, along with US Soccer and MLS, nominated one coach from their academy to participate in the program, which will be spread out over eight sessions between February 2013 and May 2014, culminating with the integration of the program into MLS academies starting in July 2014.