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Maximising football's impact with UEFA Grow


The UEFA Grow programme helped the Georgian Football Federation to fully capitalise on the long-term benefits of co-hosting the European Under-21 Championship finals in 2023.

Tbilisi , Georgia
Tbilisi , Georgia Sportsfile via Getty Images

In her role as communications manager at the Georgian Football Federation (GFF), Tamara Kapanadze saw first-hand how the approval of a new strategy in 2021 acted as a milestone on her nation’s journey to co-hosting the record-breaking UEFA European Under-21 Championship 2023 with Romania – thanks in part to the support of the UEFA Grow programme.

For associations hosting a UEFA tournament, capitalising on the opportunity to boost football’s standing and leave a lasting legacy relies on a critical first step – setting out a vision for the sport’s future.

“The biggest lesson was understanding that all projects, including the Under-21 finals, should align with our overall goal of giving more Georgians the opportunity to access and play football,” says Kapanadze, reflecting on the GFF strategy development process. Aiding this sort of strategic development is fundamental to the aims of the UEFA Grow programme, which provides tailored strategic assistance to UEFA member associations to ensure they reach their full potential on and off the pitch.

About UEFA Grow

Measuring the positive impact of football

The Georgian Football Federation is one of numerous European associations to have benefitted from the step-by-step guidance the UEFA Grow programme offers associations developing a football strategy, usually kicking off with a workshop for staff.

“It’s difficult to escape the demands of our daily jobs,” says Kapanadze, the GFF’s point of liaison with Grow in the lead up to the tournament. “The workshop helped us recognise the benefits of taking time to focus on the bigger picture.”

UEFA Grow’s expertise in strategy planning tools – SWOT analysis, image assessment and stakeholder mapping – provided solid foundations for a new strategy, while analysis evaluated Georgian football’s return on investment by calculating its direct and indirect impact on the economy, health and society. The research also provided a basis for measuring progress.

The GFF used its strategy to determine how to invest government financial support for the Under-21 finals. Meshki Stadium in Tbilisi and the Shengelia Arena in Kutaisi were both renovated, and five new training centres were established across the country, leaving a legacy for future generations of amateur and professional footballers.

The GFF also successfully applied for UEFA HatTrick progamme funding to underwrite the cost of these new football centres. “These will give more opportunities for children to play,” says Kapanadze.

Systematic strategic support through UEFA Grow

Recognising the chance to raise Georgian football’s profile domestically, and drawing on the insights gained through UEFA Grow’s support, the GFF launched a common brand and philosophy – ‘I am Georgia’ – for its national teams ahead of the European Under-21 Championship finals. “From the smallest to the largest detail, everything we do services our strategy,” observes Kapanadze.

The GFF has continued to draw on the knowledge and assistance available through UEFA Grow.

“For a small federation, it’s important to feel UEFA’s support,”

“Creating a strategy was the first step. To achieve our goals, we have to keeping working together.”

Tamara Kapanadze, communications manager at the Georgian Football Federation

Many of those goals have already been met, with the European Under-21 Championship 2023 setting new benchmarks and laying the foundations for a powerful, longstanding legacy in Georgia, Romania and beyond.

What is the UEFA Grow programme?

The UEFA Grow programme offers on-demand strategic skills that help associations to align development projects with both their own priorities and UEFA’s strategic goals, ensuring a measurable return on investment.

Grow’s support offers a range of business-critical expertise: identifying football development trends, exploring business opportunities, supporting strategic growth, assessing football’s social impact and strengthening professional networks.

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