Coach education remains a crucial element of the work undertaken in the technical sector by UEFA and its 53 member associations.
Well-trained coaches help to form good players, with the overall well-being of European football in mind – this message will be emphasised when renowned coaches, coach educators and technical experts gather in Brussels next week for the 19th UEFA Course for Coach Educators.
The theme of the course will be "Coach Education: Preparing for Reality". The objective is to support and stimulate association staff coaches who are responsible for the education of coaches. This particular course in the Belgian capital will focus on the preparation of student coaches for the reality of the job as football technician, manager and leader.
As host association for the event, the Royal Belgian Football Association (URBSFA-KBVB) recognises the essence of coach education. "Top coaches convey the conviction of a clear training and match philosophy," said URBSFA-KBVB technical director Michel Sablon. "One of the main qualities to achieve their objectives is knowledge – and gathering knowledge passes, for a huge part, through education. This conference is an exceptional opportunity to exchange coaching knowledge and experience among the 53 members of the UEFA Coaching Convention, with the aim to evaluate, to update and to improve their local education programme."
In his welcome message to delegates, UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino said: "All the associations will be represented in Belgium, underlining the member associations' appreciation for UEFA's coach education programme and the importance they accord the UEFA Coaching Convention to which it is inextricably linked. The existence of these programmes at national and European level is an important factor in the improvements we have seen over the past 20 years but also in the development of the game in the future."
Among the course topics to be presented by coaching luminaries such as Georges Leekens and Morten Olsen, are the front-line life of a coach and handling professional players. UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh will examine the coaches' leadership role; former professional goalkeepers Frans Hoek and Packie Bonner will look at the role of the goalkeepers' coach; and UEFA Medical Committee chairman Michel D'Hooghe will highlight the value of the medical "team behind the team".
"Furthermore," Sablon added, "the Belgian national coaches will show by different theoretical and practical demonstrations their working methods and procedures for preparing professional coaches to be successful in the fast-changing football trends."
"We at the Belgian FA are very proud to organise this conference. It is very stimulating for coach education in Belgium," said URBSFA-KBVB president François De Keersmaecker. "I also would like to thank UEFA President Michel Platini for his support for this project."
Numerous coach education activities are organised by UEFA. An innovative student exchange programme for coach education started at pilot level in 2011. The programme's goal is to give students of the UEFA Pro licence opportunities to swap international knowledge, as well as to enjoy direct access to UEFA tutors and content as part of their education.
The Jira Panel is the specific UEFA body that discusses and nurtures coach education. The panel is named after renowned Czech player, coach and administrator Václav Jíra, and comprises experienced technicians and coach educators. With the assistance of external experts, the panel works with the aim of ensuring that high standards are maintained in the drive to produce top-quality coaches.
The panel helps UEFA's Development and Technical Assistance Committee in its work and, more specifically, advises UEFA, its 53 member associations, clubs and third parties on coach education matters. It also contributes to the application and implementation of the UEFA Convention on the Mutual Recognition of Coaching Qualifications. The Coaching Convention's goal is to protect the coaching profession and smooth the way for the free movement of qualified coaches within Europe in accordance with European law.
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