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Student coaches benefit from UEFA help

Some 1,500 Pro licence students have gained invaluable insights into the coaching profession through UEFA's coach education student exchange programme.

Participants at the latest UEFA coaching student exchange course in Nyon
Participants at the latest UEFA coaching student exchange course in Nyon ©UEFA

When the group stage of the UEFA Champions League kicked-off, half of the 32 head coaches were working outside their native country. That statistic illustrates that, these days, coach education needs to look beyond domestic confines. UEFA's student exchange scheme was introduced in 2011 with that in mind.

The avowed intention was to provide Pro licence students with opportunities for international knowledge exchange; to offer direct access to UEFA tutors and UEFA content as part of the educational process; and to give added-value support to the Pro licence courses run by national associations.

The fourth season kicked off with a course involving 80 Pro licence students from Austria, Germany, Greece and Ukraine, and the upcoming 18th event of its kind (or the 20th if the two pilot courses in 2011 are included) involving Albania, Azerbaijan, Georgia and FYR Macedonia brings the total number of visiting delegations to 62. It also means that all but two of the member associations who organise Pro licence courses at domestic level will have attended the UEFA course at least once.

In fact, 18 member associations have sent Pro licence groups to Nyon twice in four seasons, and the overall guest list of some 1,500 students has included familiar faces such as current AC Milan head coach Filippo Inzaghi and Croatia national-team coach Niko Kovač, alongside the likes of Jens Lehmann, Marcel Desailly, Andriy Shevchenko, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Stefan Effenberg, Fabio Cannavaro, Marco Materazzi, Fabio Grosso and Gianluca Zambrotta.

David Moyes addressed the students
David Moyes addressed the students©Getty Images

The renowned coaches who have passed on their experiences to the students have been Ottmar Hitzfeld, Georges Leekens, Gareth Southgate, Morten Olsen, Thomas Schaaf and, at the kick-off course of the 2014/15 season, David Moyes.

At the end of the first course of the new season, Werner Mickler, coach educator for world champions Germany, commented: "This is a wonderful idea because the UEFA courses give us a chance to see the different approaches adopted by different national associations. This makes you realise that there are various ways of going about the job of educating coaches to work at the top level."

The number of Pro licence student exchange events staged since 2011 might hint at routine courses based on repetition of the same script. This, however, has not been the case. Over the four seasons, there has been a degree of continuity in terms of the coach education specialists acting as tutors (Nico Romeijn of the Netherlands, Denmark's Peter Rudbæk and England's Howard Wilkinson), working in conjunction with UEFA’s chief technical officer Ioan Lupescu, head of football education Frank Ludolph and two UEFA technical instructors: Jacques Crevoisier of France and goalkeeper coaching specialist Packie Bonner from the Republic of Ireland.

However, the interaction between the participants has also provided UEFA with motivation for constant re-appraisals and re-alignment of the content to keep pace with the realities of the game. The Greek association's technical director, Telis Batakis, back in Nyon for the first course of 2014/15 after leading another group of Pro licence students in 2013, welcomed this development.

"I have to say I noticed important progress since the previous time I was here, especially the interaction with the course tutors, their important and clever questions and their input with regard to the practical sessions," he said. "These events are a valuable part of the students' education."

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