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Football Coaching for the Future

September 1, 2010 Leave a comment

After the poor performance by the England football team in the World Cup over in South Africa, supporters have been debating the reasons behind the dismal campaign. After the dust had settled on the Spanish victory in soccer city, the inquest into England’s failure began. One hotly debated and discussed topic is the current standard of football coaching at all levels of the sport, from the grass-roots involved with getting youngsters into the game and developing their abilities all the way up to the elite level competitions. When looking purely at the statistics, it is clear to see that the English coaching power is a long way off some of the other major football nations.

Spanish players celebrate the culmination of a successful system by lifting the World Cup

The number of coaches qualified at the highest level with the UEFA ‘A’ licence and the UEFA pro licence in England is 1,010. Comparing this to the current European and World champions Spain, where 14,860 coaches are qualified at these levels, it becomes apparent that there needs to be a concerted effort to increase the number of English coaches qualified at the highest levels who can provide the players of the future with the ability to develop them into world-class performers. It is not just Spain who vastly outnumbers England in this department, other top nations such as Germany (6,570), France (2,588), Italy (1,810) and Holland (1,137) can all boast a larger crop of top coaches, thus proving that the number of top coaches needs to be increased.

Of course, simply increasing the number of coaches is not going to ensure instant success on the field. The coaches themselves need to be competent in what they are doing, and this competency should be achieved whilst gaining the qualifications. Learning from the Spanish system of coaching, where all the coaches are promoting and teaching the same style of football across the country, we can say ways in which the English coaching system could potentially be improved. During the past decade, Spanish football has been developing successfully due to this philosophy of teaching a single style of football across the country and ingraining this style of play in the young players so by the time they get to the senior level of competition, it becomes natural to them, and they can all work well together. The result of this combined effort from coaches and players has resulted in resounding success for Spanish football. Since 1998, Spanish youth teams from under-16 to under-21 level have won 19 UEFA and FIFA championships. During this same period, England have won one.

The English FA need to focus on both increasing the number of qualified coaches as well as making sure there is a clear system of coaching in place through all levels and age groups so that there is a continuous development of players coming through the ranks, all playing to the same style. It is not essential to simply copy the Spanish system and try to implement exactly what has worked so successfully in Spain into our own game, however a potentially similar coaching system could seriously benefit the English game and lead to future success in the major competitions.

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