There are rumours that football outside of the professional game is dying in the UK. Apparently it’s on the decline – it couldn’t be further from the truth!
Football is being played in more facets than ever before, and by more people than ever before. Mini soccer sees children from as young as 7 playing in good competitive games, Hull & District Veteran’s league is witnessing unbelievable growth with 30 somethings polishing the Copas once again; The introduction of Walking Football is reaching towns and villages across the region and fantastic projects like Just Play that create revolutionary clubs like Blokes United are proving Football is more influential in peoples lives than ever before!
To enable this to be sustainable and continue to move forward, we need to glue this all together with one over-arching framework – Good Coaching!
The English FA have created an exciting new philosophy which men, women and children can adopt throughout the country and it’s available to learn through your local County FA.
Having seen the new England DNA and a keen advocate of the developing game, I decided to enrol in the newly FA Level 1 in Coaching Football to see what’s new and what knowledge I could gain. The result truly surprised me.
As a mid 30’s man who’s played under a number of coaches, you presume you’ve seen everything, you presume you know most of what’s out there. Again, the truth is, you don’t. There are always new practices, fresh ideas for developing player discipline and getting players, parents and fans to buy into your ethos, the way you want your club to be perceived in the local area.
In December 2014, the England DNA was launched outlining a playing and coaching philosophy for England teams and a vision of the future England senior international.
FA Coaches Tom and Jamie capturing the newly revised Level 1 course.
After enrolling I was sent an email asking me to carry out 3 short courses online, an Introduction to Coaching, Long Term player development and a Plan, Do & Review course to get you thinking about the good habits you’ll be adopting going forward.
Courses can be structured in various ways in terms of when they’re delivered, this first one being over 2 weekends, with 2 nights in between. The First weekend covered the Introduction with some Practical and Theory, the Tuesday night covering Safeguarding Children, the Thursday covering FA Emergency Aid and the final weekend finalising Practical and Theory. Short, compact and efficient. It was setup perfectly.
“So like Matchdays, when Saturday comes, the nerves kick in, you start to actually question your knowledge and prepare for what may come at you”
Suey Smith has been appointed as the new County Coach Developer for East Riding FA and delivered an inspiring opening introduction.
Suey Introduced both Jamie Barnwell-Edinboro and Tom Lee as affiliate tutors, and explained what the course would involve and you very quickly got the feeling it would be an open forum, one where it wasn’t one way traffic from Teacher to student, but one where you’d be allowed to input your ideas and deliver practices yourself.
In fact that’s the theme for the FA’s revised philosophy, it’s about giving coaches the knowledge and confidence to deliver good practice, but trusting players to think it through themselves and giving them [especially the younger ones] the responsibility of managing it themselves, just like they’d have to in a game situation.
In groups we discussed the attributes we felt were important in coaching and we quickly realised, whilst there are aspects slightly more important than others, it’s a rounded role, that requires different qualities and in order to give our players the most enjoyable experience, you needed a bit of everything.
We discussed respect being at the top of our tree as we felt it filtered into many of the other attributes and was actually the starting point for creating the right environment.
After learning some excellent new Arrival Activities and Game Related Practices, we were on the field and delivering them to the other coaches, a great way to take part and understand all at the same time. All 18 coaches had the opportunity to input and add their own ideas to the sessions. The sun being out helped too, although a few of us who’d not moved for a while soon felt the heat; So the gaps writing notes for what we’d done were very welcome for all!
After a weekend of gaining excellent practical knowledge, we moved onto the midweek sessions and very important they are too. Safeguarding Children, the very future of English Football, is really important, and Steve Lazenby made it engaging and informative and left you confident of going back to your clubs to ensure you put the right measures in place and that everyone at the club understand what’s expected of them to again create the very best playing environment for our children.
Thursday night’s session was another hugely important part of not only the game, but life in general.
The ability and knowledge to react to a medical emergency before any paramedics attend can ultimately be the difference between life and death. Whilst that might be extreme and hopefully unlikely. It’s important there’s always someone at training sessions and games has the necessary training to ensure everyone is safe and in the event of an situation, they can react.
It’s more than just the ability to react, do you know all of the medical information there is to know about your players? Is it recorded? If not, then why not put something in place to get that information and give yourself the best possible chance to look after the players and staff at your club. The day you need it, you’ll be so pleased you took the time to find out.
The final weekend came around, much too quick for many coaches displeasure, we’d very quickly built a team bond and we were enjoying what we were doing. Both Jamie and Tom made it clear from the beginning, “We’re in this together”, we all share the same responsibility, to ensure the environment we create is safe and one of enjoyable learning for both Children and adults.
The camaraderie was visible for all to see and at certain times, you forgot why you were there, you were simply part of the session and learning about what makes a session fun and enjoyable to take part in.
If there’s one overriding memory from the course, it’s that it isn’t always about tactics and ability, it’s about enjoyment and inclusion. It doesn’t have to be a Guardiola style practice to be the best session you’ve ever given, sometimes the most simple sessions are the best!
The next course is this month, but such is the popularity, it’s full, so the next one is scheduled for February 2017, and I’d urge any male or female over the age of 16 to take part – it gives you an excellent understanding of Football Coaching and who knows, if you’re like me, you’ll get the bug and be looking when the next level 2 is.
In the meantime, you can be looking through the other excellent courses the East Riding have to offer here, you’ll find free workshops on Coaching Fundamentals, How to engage parents, Managing Difference, which looks at the differing age groups and more.
We’re very lucky to have the very best in Football Coaches on our doorstep. Make use of them. Like me, you don’t know everything!