Scotland was the latest stop for UEFA's coach education courses for goalkeepers, with the development of this position and the nurturing of the men between the posts the key focus.
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UEFA's springtime programme of specialist training for goalkeeper coaches has continued in Scotland – and participating associations have welcomed this innovative addition to UEFA's coach education activities.
Three courses, under the auspices of the UEFA coaching programme and requested by the UEFA member associations, have already taken place in Serbia, Belgium and Moldova. Visiting associations have been invited to send three goalkeeper coach educators/goalkeeping specialists who can implement the acquired knowledge in respective national coach education schemes.
The courses, run by UEFA's football education services, have the objective of giving goalkeeper coach educators invaluable training and making them aware of UEFA guidelines and the latest developments in goalkeeping and how to coach the men between the posts. The goalkeeper seminars are running hand in hand with the introduction of a UEFA-endorsed goalkeeper licence, with the licence criteria recommended by the governing body's Jira Panel, which oversees European coach education developments.
Representatives from Belgium, Denmark, England, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Malta, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Sweden and Wales came to the latest course in Glasgow, featuring practical work at Saint Mirren FC.
UEFA's main course instructors in Scotland were Pat 'Packie' Bonner (Republic of Ireland) and Frans Hoek (Netherlands). They were joined by Jim Stewart, the Scottish national team's goalkeeper coach and the Scottish Football Association's (SFA) head of goalkeeper coach education. The SFA was also represented, among others, by president Campbell Ogilvie, football development director Jim Fleeting and head of coach education Donald Park.
Items on a packed agenda focused on various issues related to goalkeeping and coaching goalkeepers. Topics included the development of goalkeeping in the past, present and future; basic techniques for goalkeepers; developing a pathway for international goalkeepers; team-tactical training; work together between a head coach and goalkeeping coach; and UEFA's guidelines, philosophy and methodology for goalkeepers. The discussion sessions gave participants – who included a host of vastly experienced former goalkeepers – an excellent opportunity to gather and debate the way forward for their trade.
UEFA's national associations have praised the European body for this new departure in nurturing the specialist position of goalkeeper. Norway's representatives, Frode Grodås, Kurt Hegre and Jan Erik Stinessen, described the Glasgow course as "three days filled with inspiration and knowledge. We are going home determined to provide a comprehensive goalkeeper coach education system in Norway".
Martin Thomas, the English Football Association's (FA) national goalkeeping coach, added: "I believe the philosophy of the UEFA professional goalkeeping diploma is the way forward. It is challenging and thought-provoking and firstly deals comprehensively with the goalkeeper coach/head coach relationship, and secondly in developing goalkeepers both technically and tactically into the team strategy."
Hoek said: "It is so good to see that countries are making big steps, all in their own way and on the basis of the [UEFA] guidelines. I am looking forward to the following steps."