Join the club!
Clear blue skies soared over Wembley’s arch as a swarm of school children buzzed around the small-sided football pitches neighbouring the home of English football. Jamie Godbold, FA Tesco Skills Coach team leader, was taking local school kids through a coaching session, as Gareth Southgate, The FA’s Head of Elite Development, answered the media’s questions.
The press pack wanted to know how Southgate plans to revolutionise youth football from the bottom up. The former England international conceded there was a lot of hard work ahead, but with the launch of The FA’s Licensed Coaches’ Club at Wembley Power League, he hoped English football’s governing body was taking another positive step forward. Southgate explained how the new scheme is designed to raise the standard of coaching at grassroots level, by educating coaches and providing them with a support system.
“The new club recognises coaching as a proper profession and supports coaches who are keeping up to date with their qualifications and making a commitment to self-development and progressing through the system,” said
Southgate. “It’s crucial that we’ve got people in the game who have the right type of coaching qualifications.”
For their £12 membership fee, affiliates will have access to a new website with online resources, session plans and a coaching network. And England Under-21s boss Stuart Pearce underlined the importance of taking advantage of these resources: “It is vital that as well as training their players they train themselves.”
The FA’s Senior Learning and Tutor Training Manager, Jamie Houchen, believes amateur coaches need to be regarded as professionals and not glorified childminders.
“It’s about professional recognition. Coaches in America are considered among the top role models in the community and the school,” he said. “Here, the role of the coach is sometimes seen as just a babysitting job. We’ve got some fantastic coaches here, far more than just babysitters.
“The new club really underpins our national game strategy and eventually we want to see a licensed coach in every team as it shows dedication to ongoing learning.
“The intent is to create a coaching community – we’re saying to coaches that once you’ve qualified, your development is not over. We’re here to support you. We want it to be a club – with a two-way engagement and coaches not just left to find out for themselves.”
Coaches looking to sign up to the new initiative must be a Level One qualified coach, FA CRB checked and holding their FA/HSE emergency aid and safeguarding children certificates.