UEFA's drive to nurture the quality of coach education throughout Europe is taking another bold step forward this week with the official start at pilot level of an innovative student exchange programme. The programme has been given the backing of the UEFA Executive Committee.
The project is aimed at giving Pro Licence students opportunities for international knowledge exchange, as well as to enjoy direct access to UEFA tutors and content as part of their education. The first pilot course is taking place at the House of European Football in Nyon this week.
Pro Licence students from the Czech Republic, Poland and Scotland will take part in the inaugural four-day pilot course. The participants in each course will come from three European national associations, led by their coach education director. UEFA appoints an overall course director to coordinate the event, with members of UEFA's Jira Panel also becoming actively involved, along with guest presenters.
Experienced English coach Howard Wilkinson is the course director in Nyon, and former England defender Gareth Southgate will address participants about his experience of moving from playing to management.
The plan offers direct UEFA involvement, which can provide added value support to the Pro Licence courses run by national associations. Three scenarios are being earmarked − student exchange events staged at UEFA's headquarters in Nyon, at a host association or in conjunction with a UEFA event − for example, an age-limit competition final round. The objective is to officially launch the student exchange with up to four events during the 2011/12 campaign.
The second pilot course will be staged during the first week of the forthcoming UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals in Denmark. Students from the Danish Football Association (DBU) will be joined by visitors from Finland, Norway and Sweden. The students will have the opportunity to observe several matches at the U21 final round.
The programmes have been designed to encompass all of the coaching sector's broad palette of issues. Technical items are on the agenda − specific areas such as counterattacking, combination play or pressing. Clubs will be visited, matches analysed (especially at the U21 event), and teaching practice demonstrations will be carried out.
In addition to the exchange of ideas which such events encourage, group discussions, forum sessions and meetings with frontline professional coaches are envisaged, together with topics such as the qualities required to manage top professional players, how players are recruited and how to manage a crisis situation.
"The aim is to encourage student coaches to move across Europe and to broaden their horizons," said UEFA's technical director, Andy Roxburgh. "This is an exciting project and one which, UEFA is convinced, will genuinely add value to the coach education work being done by our member associations."
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