Exclusive interview with the head of the Moldovan Football Federation Leonid Oleinicenco! Problems, solutions, and the future of Moldovan soccer

– Mr President, thank you for the opportunity to ask you some less trivial questions.

One of the terms often repeated in the public arena is “crisis.” Every person and every institution feels the crisis differently. How does the Moldovan Football Federation team deal with the crisis? What have you had to give up in the crisis, and what have you focused your attention and resources on?

-All social and economic crises are generated by people and people have to find solutions. The FMF team feels the difficulties the whole country is facing because we are a common body. Like the whole country, we are looking for solutions and, in some cases, we are more successful, in others less so. One thing is certain – crises mobilize, and the FMF team is very mobilized today.

Crises require us to work harder and be more active. We have not given up on any of the objectives we have set because all the objectives we have set are vitally important for the development of Moldovan football. The difficulties have introduced some corrections in our calendar, but they have not stopped us. All our attention and resources are focused on priorities, which directly influence the development of football in Moldova.

We have big tasks related to the present, such as securing National Teams, of which there are 17. There are a lot of elements involved here, from the necessary equipment to the complex logistics for the training camps, including the provision of plane tickets to bring players from different countries, contracting hotels, organizing friendly matches, a large number of activities related to the maintenance of the National Teams’ training center, which requires investment and permanent efforts.

And we have tasks concerning the future of national football, such as the organization of trials under the “Football in Schools” program. Here we are talking about investing in the construction, and modernization of football pitches, building cooperation with the authorities, creating and equipping football classes, training teachers, organizing competitions, and much more.

Among the children we are now attracting to the pitch and providing them with the conditions to learn football are the future stars of national football. The national football school is not a mechanism that works by itself. It needs to be constantly maintained and nurtured -that is what we do.

These are just a few components of the FMF agenda.

We noticed that the FMF has held a cycle of meetings dedicated to developing a new Strategy. What are the objectives of the FMF Strategy, and why were these objectives selected?

-It is the Football Development Strategy for the period 2025 – 2030. 2024 is the end of the current Strategy, and we are preparing for the next phase. Qualitative progress in achieving the objectives is only possible through coordinated teamwork. That is why, together with our colleagues across the country, we have examined the progress and impacts achieved under the current Strategy, formulated the objectives for the next phase, and built the mechanism by which we will determine the progress made.

The UEFA experts guided the process of developing the Strategy. Our Strategy can be seen as part of the Regional Football Development Strategy.

During the consultation meetings, we formulated a set of national objectives for the development of Moldovan football, and we will make them public as soon as we adopt the Strategy.

An important aspect is that all the objectives are measurable. For example, we aim to increase the number of children involved in activities under the “Football in Schools” program. Or to contribute to the introduction of a legal-normative framework, which would stimulate private investment in the development of the financial stability of Moldovan football clubs. Or progress in the national football arena’s construction according to current standards.


-When you think about the future, you probably see not only goals but also problems that threaten your goals. What are the biggest threats to the development of Moldovan football?

-Football is a social phenomenon that unites about 82% of the population in Moldova. Therefore the biggest threats to society are also threats to Moldovan football.

We are worried about people leaving Moldova. The a high intention of departure among young people and teenagers. People are looking for a better life, and the only effective tool to change their intention to leave is to raise the standard of living in Moldova. This is why the FMF team aims to actively contribute to the creation of a spectrum of opportunities in Moldova, which attract young people out of the country.

This is also why we are very focused on the “Football in Schools” program, where we modernize and expand the football infrastructure in Moldovan localities, create football classes and equip children, train and equip teachers, organize competitions, and complete the life of local communities with new – beautiful and healthy – events and actions.

The aim is to bring new opportunities where they are missing. At the same time, we increase the national football school’s ability to identify and generate talent. In this way, we also contribute to the children’s education – because football teaches personal discipline and responsibility, and teaches children to cooperate as a team. These qualities cannot be taught in the virtual world – only in the real world.

We are in constant dialogue with the authorities and try to be helpful. We come up with proposals and projects that can support the development of the Moldovan football industry – and that means creating thousands of jobs in the country’s districts, creating thousands of new opportunities in Moldova, and generating a strong impetus for the development of the regions.

And coming back to your question, there are threats – but we prefer to see the opportunities and act to exploit them.

-What are the relations between the FMF and the authorities in the context of what has been discussed? Do you have a stable dialogue with the country’s authorities? Is there interest in the objectives of the FMF strategy?

-The FMF team always tries to maintain dialogue with the authorities. We are aware that the authorities have a much more complex agenda, that’s why we don’t only come with problems – but also with possible solutions.

For example, the FMF fully assumes the maintenance of the 17 National Football Teams, which involves a continuous effort. It involves hundreds of people and works year after year. In this process we have to manage many tasks: provide hundreds of sets of personal equipment, ensure a continuous process of analysis and communication with the players, ensure a special feeding process or complicated logistics involving hundreds of plane tickets, hotel rentals, match organization, transport insurance and many other important elements that remain hidden from the general public – but without which the National Teams could not operate.

We could not do this without our partners’ UEFA and FIFA support, whom we thank for their trust and support.

The strategic objectives of the FMF are closely linked to the needs and expectations of society. They are not goals born within the institution. Progress towards these goals generates many social effects, such as increasing the quality of life in the country’s localities, generating new opportunities for children, teenagers, youth, and adults, supporting the improvement and diversification of the national economy, developing a sense of healthy patriotism, and more.

The FMF does not have institutional personalized objectives. The goals of Moldovan football are part of the goals of the people of the Republic of Moldova.

-You mentioned the intensive cooperation with colleagues at UEFA and FIFA, whereby these organizations support FMF initiatives and projects. What is the interest of these institutions in supporting FMF projects, and why Moldova in particular?

-Football, in general, is an art of cooperation. Football is not just about matches and goals. Football is about education, cooperation, responsibility, discipline, mutual support, help, planning, and development.

Our colleagues in UEFA and FIFA support the Republic of Moldova in this context. We are an active part of the regional football map. We are nurturing and educating talent. We are presenting beautiful examples of cooperation with the authorities in the context of modernising the football infrastructure in the country. We are demonstrating progress in the creation of football classes and teams. We are organizing competitions that attract more and more children and teenagers. We are very concerned about building the future of Moldovan football – our colleagues in UEFA and FIFA support these elements.

We are constantly striving to ensure that as a result of our cooperation with the FMF, our colleagues in UEFA and FIFA remain satisfied – otherwise the cooperation cannot be sustainable. We are glad that our programs’ results are presented by UEFA and FIFA as examples.

So, some mystical qualities do not support us. We promote and develop football because we come up with examples and solutions. Football is a dynamic social phenomenon that is constantly evolving and changing.

In this respect, UEFA and FIFA continuously took action to develop football, and the FMF team managed to be an effective partner in these efforts.

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