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British Coaches - A Shared Concern



After only a week of getting the ‘British Football Coaches Network’ up and running, there’s been a huge response from our fellow British Coaches. Looking down the database of the new members, some of the experience and expertise on view is eye opening – there’s some with backgrounds from professional clubs in the U.K, some who have been/are in the top tier leagues across Europe and then there’s others, who’ve worked in different capacities in both the UK and abroad. So far, in total, there is football coaching experience from over 27 different countries. Impressive, and although each are unique in their own way, the majority have a couple of things in common which neutralises their impressiveness, watering it down to a …..mmmm….ooooookkk.

A recent poll conducted by 'The Coaching Family' on twitter attracted 401 votes which is a fair amount of detailed feedback. The poll question was as follows;

Have you recently been unsuccessful in getting onto one of the following courses….

(Out of the 401 votes) The results were;

39% UEFA A Licence

46% UEFA B Licence

15% Advanced Youth Award

401 coaches who voted (I’m sure there was many more who didn’t vote) have missed out on a chance to develop themselves for the good of their players, clubs, organisations and families. Some coaches have been unsuccessful for three, four, five years in a row and more often than not (and with the greatest respect), it’s a coach next door (similar to the uninteresting grandad next door) who nobody really knows by name or reputation. When this is the case, how will we know how good a coach they are or will grow to be?!

There has been a revamp of some courses and this has caused some disruption in the number of coaching courses being delivered. So where was the planning and strategy to ensure these ‘revamps’ went more smoothly, or did the people in the power loop just not care enough to think of contingency plans? Not enough tutors available to conduct the courses? – train some more. Not enough facilities to hold the courses? – look outside the perimeters of St George’s Park, Unable to mix Ex-pro’s or ‘fast tracked super coaches’ with ‘the coach next door’? - open up courses specifically for ‘the coaches next door’.

County FA’s have again taken on more responsibilities which should be a good thing. In my opinion just like finding and developing players from unorthodox upbringings, to ensure we get a full net of the best coaches, we first need to give them a fair swim in the sea. A number of coaches in the British Football Coaches Network are working in lower paid coaching roles, waiting for their chance to be accepted onto their next coaching course - in hope that their hard-earned money will bring them a step closer to a golden ticket. With rejection comes another knockdown, another deep dig into the bottom locker to pull out something more but…… how long until that locker empties?

‘Having coached for 20 years after playing 12 years of Semi Pro football, I looked to the coaching route to give something back. During this time, I have coached in Center of excellence for lads and girls football, coached abroad, coached most recently at the Yeovil Town academy with the U16s last season. Taught and coached in further education. Another role I currently have is IQA of Level 1 and 2 courses for the FA. Plenty of experience in which I completed the UEFA B 10 years ago and the UEFA A prep in 2010. Having worked in FE it was very difficult to juggle this with academy coaching, but this was managed, as I wasn't going to accept a full time role simply because of the rates of pay they offer. Because of this, apparently and according to the FA, if coaches require the A licence for their role then there is a very good likelihood that acceptance may be granted. If the A licence is not a requirement then it is very likely not to happen.Very frustrated after being rejected twice now and I am ticking all the boxes to progress, except having a peanuts paid job, where the qualification is then required’.

Ah that golden ticket hey. So what about the coaches who have the needed coaching credentials, but just can’t catch a break? There’s widespread dismay of them pesky ‘ex-pros’ who take all the jobs and ‘faces not fitting’ (ex-pros and non ex-pros are both needed in this coaching world) but on evidence of the way things are going, even some ex-pros are facing the problem of having nowhere to ply their trade. Taking Germany as an example of how to support the career development of their coaches; giving opportunities to talented up and coming coaches isn’t the only thing they are getting right. Along with a handful of other forward thinking football countries, Germany are building relationships with FA’s around the world and in turn, building pathways and opportunities for their players and coaches. Have you heard the crazy one about China U23 national team joining the German league pyramid? How crazy is that?! And what great binding, two-way relationship must be needed if that craziness was to happen! How good would it be if British football coaches could look to existing global relationships for support?

Need more available/fairer selection screened coaching courses – check

Need more support in creating opportunities for qualified coaches – check

‘I have my UEFA A license with the FAI (Ireland). A barrier I have is getting a full time job in coaching. I have never had a problem getting on any of their courses. I even went back to college as a mature student and with my A license, I now have a Hon degree in sports management and coaching. Despite this, I still can’t get a sniff of an interview with FAI even though I have all qualifications and experience they have on job specifications. Now I will leave Ireland looking for a full time coaching role’.

The final – ‘check’ for now, is the willingness and/or need to keep our British coaches close, regardless if their location is far from close. Looking at the amount of British talent currently coaching abroad, we should be proud of having British football coaches doing so well. We should also be looking at ways to use their knowledge and experiences, to learn from and to improve structures for a brighter, British, coaching future. If we have a library full of books written by Marcelo Bielsa or by the late Johan Cruyff, nobody would close the library down and burn the books. Isolating ‘achieving British coaches abroad’ is one way to ensure, there will never be libraries full of inspirational books that help us to;

- Lead a country in World Cup qualifiers and other major International competitions

- Be part of a club playing in an intercontinental competition

- know how to coach foreign players and deal with their needs

- know what it takes to develop some of the best youth players in the world

- know how to develop below average players with minimal resources

- know how to handle pressure when losing 3 matches in a row could cost you your livelihood

- Know how to play against and beat more reputable and well known foreign coaches

Are we so naive to starve a nation of British coaches this kind of knowledge?!

Personally, I’ve been fortunate enough to gain huge experience within a coaching team in China, headed by a very good British manager. On leaving the club without real big credentials to my name, I was pleasantly encouraged when I received some ‘nibbles’ from other clubs abroad. This gave me an idea to try a little harmless experiment. I searched for English, Non-league clubs who were currently looking for a new manager and I applied for the vacant jobs. Even knowing with great certainty that I wouldn’t get any of the positions, I put great effort into my applications (I’m not talking big conference teams here, more like 9th/10th/11th tier teams) and thought maybe there was an outsiders 10000/1 chance that my China experience of having faced players such as Ramirez (ex-Chelsea), Fabiano (ex-Sevilla) Jelavic (ex-West Ham) and the Brazilian ‘Teixeira’ (ex- Shakhtar Donetsk) may count for something. ** This was just a social experiment. I could have done a decent job at the clubs but by my own admission, there's many more coaches ahead of me in terms of experience.

The two replies I actually received, informed me they were ‘looking for coaches with greater knowledge of the English game’. I had a chuckle to myself. After all, they was right. I live abroad and I’ve also had to continue my coaching development abroad.

Improve links between British Coaches abroad and Britain to enable them to gain a good knowledge of British Football – Check

In less than 10 months in charge, the coach appointed at one of the clubs I applied for, left for pastures new. The club hovers around the relegation zone. It’s a tough ole game, this British football.


**We are not professional writers as you may tell. These will join the site later. Until then, we need your support. You can Follow us on Twitter and on Coach Matt Ward's Facebook Page to keep updated. If you enjoyed this article, please share the love..

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