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Latest Pro licence exchange key for coach Poulsen's progress

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Former Denmark international Christian Poulsen was among the latest group of coaches at the UEFA Pro licence student exchange in Nyon, Switzerland.

Christian Poulsen at the UEFA Pro Licence Student Exchange
Christian Poulsen at the UEFA Pro Licence Student Exchange UEFA

Poulsen, whose playing career also took him to clubs in Germany, Spain, Italy, England, France and the Netherlands, is now assistant coach with the Danish national team following two years as an assistant with Ajax.

The 43-year-old joined 64 other Pro licence students from Azerbaijan, Czechia, Denmark and Iceland at UEFA headquarters on the shores of Lake Geneva to exchange and debate ideas and learn from experienced frontline coaches Rafael Benítez and Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

"It's a big thing for us as students that UEFA invites us here. Each nation has its own way of doing coach education, but I think the more we can exchange, the more value we will create for the Pro licence course.

"To pick up the experiences of people like Rafa Benítez and Giovanni van Bronckhorst as well is very helpful. It's a good mix of those names and others who come with a lot of knowledge. It's been a really good balance."

And what does a 92-cap former international midfielder, who has worked as an assistant to Erik ten Hag at Ajax and now to Kasper Hjulmand in the Danish national team, pick up on a course like this that he didn’t already know?

"For me, the big theme is to be yourself, and to be curious about learning. It's a big message for me that nobody is perfect. We are all humans and we will make mistakes. But we are aware that we make mistakes.

"I learnt a lot from the group. It's nice to be in a new environment and talk with some guys from Azerbaijan or Iceland, and to learn about how different cultures work or what it is like working with different resources."

 UEFA Pro License Student Exchange Course 2023
UEFA Pro License Student Exchange Course 2023UEFA

How to take a UEFA coaching course

Tactical trends and leadership lessons

Among the impressive array of guest speakers at the event were UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup winner Benítez and Van Bronckhorst, who guided Rangers FC to last season's Europa League final.

Benítez and his long-term fitness coach Paco de Miguel provided students with a detailed look at some of the recent tactical trends in the game, from high pressing to short goal kicks, before taking a deep dive into analysis of players and teams in some of Europe's top leagues.

Van Bronckhorst, who took part in the Pro licence student exchange in 2013, discussed his own experiences as a player and coach, adapting to new environments and the methodology behind creating a specific game plan.

Other speakers included Matt Crocker, director of football operations at Southampton FC, Piet Cremers, former head of performance analysis and insights at Manchester City FC, and Professor Sergio Lara-Bercial of Leeds Beckett University, who sits on the International Council for Coaching Excellence.

Rafael Benítez speaking at the UEFA Pro License Student Exchange Course 2023
Rafael Benítez speaking at the UEFA Pro License Student Exchange Course 2023UEFA

What is the UEFA Pro licence student exchange?

The exchange programme brings together Pro licence students from different footballing backgrounds for discussion and debate and practical training sessions.

This was the first edition since the COVID-19 pandemic to return to UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon, with recent events taking place online. Discussions and presentations focus on leadership, decision-making, how to deal with crisis situations, mental strength and dealing with pressure and the human skills required to handle media, players and supporter expectations.

Led by their national association coach education directors, students also learn from experienced frontline coaches such as Benítez and Van Bronckhorst, as well as UEFA's team of technical instructors, Packie Bonner, Phil Church, Ruud Dokter, Anna Signeul and Kris van der Haegen.

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