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Dokter answers FAI call as HP Director extends contract

Five-year deal will see Dutchman attempt to structure a conveyor belt of Irish football talent ahead of Russia 2018 and Euro 2020.

RUUD DOKTER WILL continue to lay the foundations for youth football in Ireland after signing a five-year extension as FAI High Performance Director.

Ruud Dokter Dokter will stay in his HP role until 2020. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The 60-year-old Dutchman, a native of Makkinga in the Netherlands, took up the position in August 2013, and his new deal means he is likely to have a highly influential role when it comes to Ireland’s chances of qualification for major tournaments from the World Cup in 2018 and beyond.

Player Development and Emerging Talent programmes were launched under Dokter’s watch over the past year, and with the make-up of Martin O’Neill’s squad sure to change following this summer’s European Championships in France the Dutchman will attempt to structure a conveyor belt of talent for the senior set-up.

“It is important for me to say that in the two and a half years I’ve been here I feel that so much has been accomplished and I didn’t hesitate for a second to renew my contract with the FAI,” said Dokter after penning his new deal.

“There are many challenges ahead of us and we are focused on continuing to make improvements to the development of players in Ireland. We’ve achieved much already including rolling out the first two recommendations of the FAI Player Development Plan, improving the Emerging Talent Programme structures, and the completion of the FAI Women’s Strategic Plan 2015-18,” he added.

Dokter has come in for criticism from some football figures, with former Arsenal and Ireland striker Graham Barrett recently questioning the HP Director’s approach and international teams’ lack of success at underage level.

However, others, including former Ireland U21 and FAI Development officer Jim Crawford, have defended Dokter’s attempts to restructure Irish football from the ground up in an effort to create a feeder system for the senior team.

Ruud Dokter 9/10/2013 Dutchman Doktor joined the FAI from his native KNVB in 2013. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“We have made great strides with our underage international teams with our U17 men’s team reaching the UEFA European Championships in Bulgaria last year and they are preparing for the Elite Phase this year,” said Dokter on the announcement of his contract extension.

“It is similar with our Women’s U19 and U17 teams, who both reached European Championships in the last two years and are also working towards Elite Phase qualifiers.

“I see many opportunities for Irish football and I am looking forward to the coming years with the FAI,” added the HP Director.

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Ciarán Gallagher

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