After highly successful pilot events staged in Nyon and Denmark during the 2010/11 season, UEFA's student exchange scheme for UEFA Pro licence candidates was officially launched when teams of coaches from Belarus, Cyprus, Kazakhstan and Moldova gathered in Nyon for the first of four events written into the 2011/12 fixture list.
This week's four-day seminar involved 53 Pro licence candidates from the four national associations and set out to provide added-value support to the coach education courses organised on a domestic basis by creating an international environment and by injecting UEFA content and tutorship.
The seminar was an attractive cocktail of presentations, practical work and match analysis. UEFA's technical director Andy Roxburgh, assisted in directing the course by Howard Wilkinson of England and Jerzy Engel of Poland, kicked off by sketching the profile of today's top coach and the demands that he has to be equipped to face.
During the opening session, Howard Wilkinson threw down a gauntlet to the participants by challenging them with a dozen fundamental questions about aptitudes and attitudes. "If you answer 'no' to two of these questions," he told his audience, "you might as well forget about the coaching profession."
Seemingly undeterred, the Pro licence students threw themselves with great gusto into interactive sessions on leadership, crisis management, media training and professional football management techniques. Match analysis abilities were examined and fine-tuned on the basis of watching two UEFA Champions League games and making detailed reports on the defensive and attacking qualities of the sides featured.
On the training pitch next to UEFA's headquarters, teaching practice took the form of specialised sessions in which the students from Belarus focused on methods of coaching combination play; the squad from Cyprus worked on crossing and finishing; the Kazakhstan team practised their educational skills during a session dedicated to counterattacking; and the Moldovan pupils designed exercises aimed at improving pressing techniques.
"The seminar was an interesting mixture of participants and their response to each other and to the UEFA environment was exceptional," commented Andy Roxburgh. "Right from the first moment, they were willing to play an interactive role and, at the end of the event, the feedback from the four associations was extremely positive. So the first official seminar augurs well for the continuation of the new project."
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