Tag Archives: Coaching

So you want to be a football coach. Just how easy is it?

By Chris Jessop

The other day, I, like most football fans, was toying with the idea of doing some football coaching. I mean, a player of my calibre will surely be able to offer a pool of knowledge, wisdom and motivation to children all over the country……..ok maybe not, but getting paid to attempt to teach people how to play football would be pretty cool. And then I realised I had no idea where to start, I mean, I know you have to do various levels of coaching badges, but how easy is it to do that? Or even find information about it? I thought the obvious place to start would be The Football Association, better known as The FA.

On the FA website (www.thefa.com) there is a section called ‘Get into football’ and in there you will find a coaching section. There are various sections, including a page full of update’s on how The FA’s coaching schemes are working wonders, but on the subject of becoming a coach, it gives you a list of local FA’s and says to contact them. The Football Association runs courses for aspiring coaches at all levels, the first two of which are offered by County FA’s. So I selected my county, Northampton (www.northamptonshirefa.com/default.htm) and searched their site and under the development page there is a coaching section that shows all available courses from The FA Youth Awards up to the Level 3 badge.

So what is a Level 1 badge? This is the UK’s most popular coaching course for all coaches with little experience or knowledge. The course provides an introduction to the organisation and trains you to be able to deliver safe and enjoyable coaching sessions. The course provides practical drills that aim to develop players’ technical skills such as shooting, turning with the ball and heading. This course is for all intents and purposes an introduction to basic coaching, and is ideally suited to those who want to work with young players and or/teams at a local or amateur level. The price for the course is stated as £110 and is a one day course.

So you have your Level 1 badge, what’s next? As this is only the beginning, the type of jobs you can hope for are limited to local teams, after school classes and basic community projects with local clubs. Gaining more work experience as a coach is essential if you want to progress to the next level and although the website at www.football-jobs.com is really handy and lists various football coaching jobs, the majority want a minimum of Level 2 coaching badges!

Once you have completed your Level 1 or you’re a coach with a few seasons experience, you may want to start your training for Level 2, as it is still an open entry course you can apply through The FA. Although it is recommended that those taking part without a Level 1 qualification do have relevant coaching experience. The course aims to develop an appreciation of the ethical coaching process and on completion you should be able to plan, conduct and evaluate a series of football coaching sessions. As a coach you will be able to ensure the health and safety of players and those involved and be able to develop greater responsibility for their own learning and development. All of this should be done whilst promoting the sport in a positive and constructive manner. There is no price stated on the website and it takes around 6 months to complete.

So what is available to you with a Level 2 coaching badge? This qualification should lead you into careers along the lines of amateur teams, community roles for football clubs etc and for soccer schools. 

On the county site, it said there were currently being changes made to the Level 3 and didn’t offer any information, so I had to search for information and found it via the 1st4sport qualification site (www.1st4sportqualifications.com) to find out more about it.

Now those courses are pretty straight forward, so the next step is the Level 3, also known as the UEFA ‘B’ Licence. You will need your Level 2 badge and you should also have to complete an Accident and Emergency Course and a Child Protection Course before being able to start your Level 3. Firstly, you will need access to a team that you can coach, and you will be encouraged to discuss the suitability of the team with a coach educator prior to signing up for the course. You will be able to plan and develop your own football coaching programmes, as well as how to manage, implement and conduct those football programmes.

As a coach, you will also learn how to effectively evaluate your activities and develop a plan for your further development as a coach. This qualification will not only form part of a credible CV for employment in the game, but as a UEFA accredited qualification, it will allow you access to a variety of opportunities within the professional game. You can also become a member of FACA (Football Association, Coaches Association, http://facalive.thefa.com )     which provides advice and support for top coaches. The price will vary to where you do the qualification, and it takes around 9-12 to complete. Other Coaching Associations include;  The Association of Football Coaches www.associationoffootballcoaches.com, The Professional Football Coaches Association (PFCA) www.leaguemanagers.com/search-7.html

Now you’re a top qualified coach, what can you do? Experienced professionals can be fast tracked to Level 3, so you should be in good company. In the professional game, coaches are expected to have at least the UEFA ‘B’ Licence, so if you have gained this qualification you should be looking at coaching at a fairly high standard.

Finally, if you have been coaching for a number of years and want to progress into top level coaching and even management then you will need to apply for your UEFA ‘A’ Licence. The best comparison for the ‘A’ licence is that it is the equivalent to getting a degree. Having this qualification makes you very employable to almost any coaching role available. It takes two years to complete and can only be done if you are working with or for a national FA. The course is centred around two parts, which are split into two-week sessions that are based at Lilleshall Football Academy (National Centre) with various other sessions, including distance learning and support sessions. This licence operates a pass or fail basis and it is now mandatory that all league managers hold a ‘UEFA ‘A’ Licence.

The UEFA Pro Licence is the final and highest coaching qualification available, and follows the completion of the UEFA ‘B’ and ‘A’ Licences.

A UEFA Pro Licence is required by anyone who wishes to manage a football club in the top level of the nation’s league system on a permanent basis (i.e. more than 12 weeks – the amount of time an unqualified caretaker manager is allowed to take control). This applies to both the head coach or team manager, and such a licence is also required to manage in the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Cup.

Each current manager of a top-flight team in Europe was set a deadline of 2010 to acquire the licence, or else face losing his post

I think it is definitely worth going on as many training courses as you can to become as qualified as a coach as possible and seemingly, the FA Level 1,2,3 coaching badges are adequate for you to have a decent go at become a coach. Those that dedicate their career to coaching will be advised to go further and do the ‘A’ Licence. Because, the better you get, and the more experience you gain from these coaching courses, the more likely you are to be spotted as a coach with talent. Another key piece of advice would be to keep up-to-date with current goings on in the world of football (I’m sure I don’t need to tell many football coaches this!) because it is a common ground with a lot of young children who will watch matches, so you will always be informed and who knows, you might see something that can lead to you becoming the next Sir Alex Ferguson!

You can also keep up to date with any new jobs in football by signing up for the job alerts by email, a FREE service from website www.football-jobs.com. As new jobs are posted to the website you get sent an email letting you know there are new jobs for you to look at.

So overall, I found the process of trying to find what coaching badges are available and where to do them, what they consist of, price etc, all very confusing. When it came down to it, you can access most of the information from The FA website, via a number of other different channels, which can prove very arduous. The information is out there and going on any search engine will take you to thousands of coaching sites, it would just be a lot easier if all the information about coaching courses and all existing jobs were available on one site.

About the Author: Chris Jessup is a Sport, Media and Culture Graduate looking for a job in media or Pr in football or sport in general. Find out m ore about him at http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/chris-jessup/23/994/a2a

Who Coaches the Coaches ?

Following my recent post on the National Football Centre, a serious issue is raised regarding the future development of English coaches.  I would suggest that we have decent coaches and many young , enthusiastic coaches. I have observed them in Academies and club community schemes.  I have also seen many cases of good practice at the grass roots level.  Player centred coaches who crave further development but find the current system cumbersome and expensive.

I recently followed up my work in Turkey by returning to train Tutors.  I was given the freedom, as I had been with the UEFA ‘B’ and ‘A’ Licences to develop the syllabus from the good practice I had experienced from around the world and from sound research in the field of Teaching and Learning.  The tutor trainees were specially selected from outstanding ‘A’ licence graduates and were a mixture of grass roots coaches, professional club coaches and youth coaches, teachers and former International players and staff. They were there because they wanted to be and saw it as an opportunity to contribute to the development of Turkish football.  It was all paid for by the Tukish Football Federation on the basis that these people would be committed to work in the development programme for Turkey.

I completed the first ever AFC Special Pro Diploma in China last month. The candidates were mostly former International players now coaching at the highest level; the Superleague.  All coaches and their assistants must obtain this award by the end of 2010 or risk losing their jobs.  Part of the assessment is to identify potential instructors for coach education.  These top coaches see that aspect as important as the professional qualification Paid for by the CFA and A.F.C.

We need to be just as selective, raise the bar in terms of commitment and subsidise coach education so the best people can benefit whatever their circumstances.

I am fed up with the constant references to our coaches and players being no good, there are excellent players out there and highly skilled players, I know because I am out there too and always have been.  As Technical Director I visited the clubs, watched training and took sessions at the clubs.  I watched grass roots football every week as well as Academies and the Pro leagues.  I believed that was my job, who does that now?  Not the journalists who continually ramble on with negativity and a ‘woe betide’ attitude and certainly nobody from the FA!

There is a better way to develop high quality coaches and utilise the talent that already exists. Why can’t clubs become teaching academies for coaches, like teaching hospitals and the newer teacher training schools?  Excellent coach educators developed through clubs from the ranks of practising coaches just like teaching doctors and surgeons and Teacher / mentors in education.  Aspiring coaches could be specially selected for internships to learn on the job at Academies and with the pro’s?

My daughter is just about to graduate with a first class honours degree in teaching and education (fingers crossed) she has done four years training and spent more time in schools than at the University.

Wake up F.A it’s called “Competence Based Learning”.  Real practitioners mentoring gifted, aspiring professionals in the real world, not the simulated tutoring conducted by out of touch ‘instructors’ in the lecture theatre and on the fantasy field!

As for the grass roots the clubs also have excellent Community schemes, many offer coach education but within the current outdated framework.  How about adding a new type of Grass Roots Charter Club?  Extra funding for clubs who are examples of excellent practice to employ Directors of Grassroots Coaching who are specifically trained to organise and deliver level 1,2,and 3 in the grass roots workplace and ensure good practice and who actually work coaching young players?  Get rid of all the Tutor assessors and verifiers and spend the money where it is really productive; inside the grass roots!  I am in the National Training Centre in Kunming (one of three!) giving this advice to the Chinese and developing Coaches for the Chinese F.A. because my own governing body doesn’t want to listen!  I have done this in Turkey, Croatia, Republic of Ireland, Latvia and elsewhere for FIFA and UEFA.  From Level 1 to Pro yet I am considered no longer qualified in my own country!

I cannot be sure but I do not know any member of the League Managers Association; that’s all the current professional managers and all past Managers, who are considered qualified to run a F.A Coaching Course at any level. Remember that’s people like; Sir Alex, Arsene Wenger and Roy Hodgson through to Peter Taylor, Sammy Lee and includes the likes of Graham Taylor, David Pleat, Alan Curbishly and Don Howe. What a waste of talent and experience! There are many excellent practitioners in Academies like Tony Carr at West Ham, Dave Parnaby at Middlesborouugh and Steve Avory at Charlton who could easily run internships. The possibilities are endless for creative thinkers, perhaps the problem lies therein?

Imagine being one of 12 young interns at Manchester United; coaches, performance analysts and strength and conditioning coaches fresh out of university or former Academy Scholars released from the club. You are managed by Paul McGuiness in the Academy and work in the evenings as assistants in  the 9-16 age groups. You are studying for your, level 2,3,or 4 awards and are mentored by the academy coaches but have sessions with Rene Mullenstein and q & a sessions with Sir Alex as well as sessions with the other performance and sports science staff.  You take part in an overseas exchange programme and spend time at Ajax. What kind of coaches might we produce with such a strategy?

Such ‘out of the box’ thinking would need to be backed up by strong and sound leadership.  Sadly I fear we might be just a little lacking in that area too.

The National Football Centre, St Georges Park – White Elephant?


This link will take you to a fine article by Gerry Cox on the future of the F.A National Football Centre. As Gerry points out the F.A. is of course bidding for a world cup and appears to have done a ‘U’ turn when they have had little interest since 2005. David Sheepshanks, has always been a supporter and the centre played a big part in his manifesto to become Chairman of the F.A. Time has seen Sir Trevor’s view change from skeptic to champion, he was not in favour when the project was mothballed. Having been one of the originators of the project and member of the National Football Centre Ltd Board and succeeding Howard Wilkinson as project leader I am of course delighted at this turnaround.

It was Howard who coined the phrase ‘University of Football’ we had also visited Coverciano, Clairefontaine and the Centres in Portugal, Spain, Holland, the US and others. It has pained me to have been able to work at the centre outside Madrid, the Turkish Centre, Aspire Academy in Qatar, Home Depot and Latvia and know that we were being left behind when once we were pathfinders (Lilleshall National School). Buildings do not develop players, Sir Trevor is quite right to be concerned about the quality of coaching but isn’t that his job? The F.A. is responsible for training and qualifying coaches in this country…or are they?

The counties or licensed, approved coach education centres governed by a company called First 4 sport deliver coaching courses from level 1 to level three. They employ (at the candidates expense) Tutors, Assessors, Internal and external verifiers who monitor the courses. The majority of these do not coach players or teams or have not done so for many years. It is financially more rewarding not to. Other than courses for professional players, delivered by the PFA, all of these courses are delivered by part time tutors. It is these courses that aspiring Academy Coaches have to attend before being allowed to take the Youth Coaches Awards or Academy Directors License. The coaches being trained to coach our elite kids are being trained by tutors who never do and assessed by examiners who never have! This is all done in the name of quality control!! How can that be? The truth is it makes money!

Approved Centres draw down funding from Further Education through partnerships with colleges and add this to the candidate’s fees. The more courses, the more funding. The F.A. does not train coaches at levels 1-3 but they train tutors and it is part time tutor trainers who do this, they too rarely; if ever coach teams.

Tutors have to go through so many hoops to get qualified that they have to spend a small fortune to get there, and then they have to attend Continuous Professional Development Courses to retain the qualifications it’s no wonder they never have time to coach players!

Is it surprising that highly skilled, high quality or even high potential coaches from all levels of the game do not want to get involved? A year ago I attended a two day get together at the Beckham Academy at what was described as in service training for ‘elite coach educators’. This was for coaches selected as potential level four (UEFA’A’ ) tutors. Apart from myself and Martin Hunter ( Norwich, Bradford, Watford, Stoke and England Youth) only Guy Whittingham (Portsmouth) and John McDermott (Spurs Academy) were employed at Professional level. The level 4 course is entry level for Academy Directors and Youth Coaches, there were 35 coaches in the room, were they going to deliver the courses aimed at those who are destined to coach our elite youth? I believe the entire cadre of candidates for one ‘A’ License last year failed the course; make your own conclusions. I hold the world’s highest qualifications and have, of course, not been invited to deliver a course in England since 2004. There are many in the professional game like me. My question then is, erect the buildings yes, but who coaches the coaches?

to be continued…..