Following the launch of the UEFA C Diploma, UEFA's new chief of football development looks at the importance of the grassroots coach, both for personal development and the growth of the game.
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Following the launch of the UEFA C Diploma this week, the organisation's new chief of football development, Maxwell Scherrer, has been explaining the importance of certified grassroots coaches to the game's well-being.
The C Diploma will set the standard for European grassroots coaching, which former Brazil defender Maxwell says can help the game at all levels.
"Our primary goal is to create happier, healthier people. We want players to enjoy playing football, develop their skills and remain in the game for life," Maxwell explains. "Better coaches create better, more engaged players, and by keeping more people playing the game we can improve the game at the top of the pyramid."
UEFA's grassroots vision is that everybody, everywhere has the opportunity to play football in a safe and quality-controlled environment. Allied to this is a commitment to providing high standards of education and expertise to member associations, which helps keep the game moving forwards. That's why we have launched the new UEFA C Diploma for grassroots coaches.
"We think it is important to focus less on trophies and winning at young ages but instead developing the best environment and opportunities for players to enjoy themselves," adds Maxwell. "Grassroots football is the foundation for the future game. The elite and professional games are just the tip of the iceberg."
UEFA has collaborated with all 55 of its member associations to formulate, develop and approve the new UEFA C Diploma courses for delivery from later this year.
With the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic making travel impossible, this has meant hosting a series of webinars and online training sessions featuring bespoke support from coach education experts from across Europe.
Using science-based research, UEFA has created guidelines for associations to structure a new C Diploma and grassroots leaders course syllabus, supporting mass education and ensuring that as many players as possible will benefit from high-quality, UEFA-certified coaching.
"We know UEFA has to play an important role and help our associations to raise the quality of coaches," Maxwell says.
"We want to ensure that every grassroots player has the opportunity to have a positive developmental experience, from qualified coaches, to keep them in love with the game, whether that's 11-a-side football, walking football, disabled football, futsal or any other form of the game."
Lessons for life, not just for football
On a personal level, Maxwell's playing career, which took in Cruzeiro, Ajax, Inter, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain was set into motion by passionate and encouraging coaches.
"I started playing football when I was four years old at my local neighbourhood club, I am still playing now for fun with friends, and I remember all of my coaches from when I started," recalls the 39-year-old, "Good coaches like this can have a guiding role, like an extra parent, teaching a love of football.
"Grassroots coaches not only help develop your skills as a football player but they can also teach social responsibility. The most important lesson I learnt was to enjoy the game and to have respect for my team-mates and opponents."