As someone keen to carry on learning I’ve always been interested in the FA’s educational division, FA Learning. One programme it runs is The FA Licensed Coaches’ Club which raises coaching standards across the game.
Earlier this month I attended the Club Conference at St George’s Park, home of English football. This year’s theme, The Future of English Football: Playing Your Part, was about challenging delegates to play their part.
The three day event began with an introduction from Mark Clemmit the Radio 5 and Football League Show presenter. ‘Clem,’ as everyone calls him, was an excellent speaker engaging and entertaining audiences right from the start.
Throughout the conference we could choose from big group plenaries, Question and Answer (Q &A) sessions and specialist workshops.
I particularly enjoyed Chris Key, Director of the world’s longest running musical, Les Miserables, and his wife Lucy, leading a guest choir in song with football footage playing as a backdrop.
Their rendition of the famous Liverpool song, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ was one of a number of anthems sung with passion and gusto. Chris’s workshop was incredibly powerful and demonstrated how the power of song can unite a group of complete strangers.
Sir Clive Woodward, Rugby World Cup winning head coach and Team GB Director of Sport at London 2012, was the key note speaker talking on, The DNA of a Champion.
I first heard Sir Clive more than a decade ago, in 2003, the year England won the Rugby World Cup, talking about the principles behind champion winning sides. More than 11 years on from that famous victory in Australia many of the principles outlined then for success in elite sport, hold good today.
Another excellent talk, Playground to the World Cup Finals , from Senior FA Youth Coach Educator, Martin Diggle, gave us a fascinating insight into the 2014 World Cup and how Germany won it. The subsequent Q and A session left everyone wanting more.
The workshops were a chance for us to split into smaller groups and discuss coaching issues in more details. It was impossible to do them all but I particularly enjoyed hearing
Dan Ashworth, FA Director of Elite development, and Matt Crocker, FA Head of Coach and Player Development, discussing, Emerging DNA; Identity and Pride.
This session was all about how the use of possession in the game is evolving and how important it is to include the goalkeeper in discussion and planning.
England U21’s Manager, Gareth Southgate and England U18 Head Coach, Neil Dewsnip gave the audience an insight into how much detail goes into preparation at international level, even for youngsters, in the Game Strategy workshop.
After two full on days I left feeling energised and with an improved understanding of coach education. I also enjoyed sharing experiences with young up and coming coaches and look forward to following their career path in the months and years ahead.