The 17th UEFA Course for Coach Educators in Portugal highlighted the vital nature of the work being done by the experts who train football coaches - and emphasised the need for recognition of coaching as a true profession.
"You contribute to the development of the game and individual coaches - whether they are working with Under-12s, elite youths, amateurs, or are among the few that make the professional game," UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh told the audience at the close of the event in Cascais, near Lisbon. "You are also contributing to the development of coaching as a profession - because in some quarters, it is not considered as a genuine profession."
Coaching as a profession
He added: "I think it is part of our job, and that of our colleagues working on the (professional) front line to promote the idea that this is a profession that is recognised in the same way as a teacher or a doctor, because there is professional training, an apprenticeship, qualifications and front-line contracts to be fulfilled."
Discussion and feedback
Feedback from the participants at UEFA's technical and football development courses helps the European body compile invaluable information to disseminate throughout the European game. The coach educators met in discussion groups at the Portugal course to debate a series of questions, such as the problems facing coach educators today, innovations in the sector and specialised coach education programmes within the associations.
The coach educators highlighted, among other things, recruitment difficulties and a lack of coach education literature as some of the problem areas in the sector. Nevertheless, they stressed the important work that is being undertaken, including the use of grassroots football as a vehicle to fight obesity and other social problems, monitoring the progress of young coaches to ensure that the next generation is of the best possible standard, and the use of modern technology, such as the internet, to enhance training and education methods.
Keeping in touch
"As well as training the next generation of coaches, coach educators are also vital in supporting the current generation to ensure that coaches keep up-to-date," Roxburgh told the conference. Coach educators, he said, have to be aware of the latest trends, keep in touch with how the game develops in terms of speed and tactics, embrace new technology, research teaching methods and seek innovative ways of getting the maximum out of their student coaches.
Practical work was a focal point on the agenda over the three days in Lisbon. Technical skills training was the theme of a session featuring Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) coach educator Jorge Castelo and CF Os Belenenses coach Rui Jorge. In his session, the Austrian Football Association's coach education head Paul Gludovatz looked at changes in tempo and rhythm in a team's play.
Tools and content
The tools and content of coach education dominated the final afternoon's programme - Royal Netherlands Football Association coach educator Nico Romeijn looked at assessment concepts, Danish Football Association technical director Peter Rudbaek examined the nature of refresher courses, and Takeshi Ono, head of the Japan Football Association's coach education department, gave examples of how young coaches are nurtured in Japan. "The work undertaken at this course has also given us encouragement in our work in Portugal," said UEFA Executive Committee member and FPF president Gilberto Madaíl in closing the course. "Good coaches and quality educators will help football in Portugal and Europe to go forward."