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Specialist coach education is a key aspect of the UEFA technical sector's activities. The UEFA Jira Panel is drawing up specific education guidelines for fitness, goalkeeping and futsal coaching, with UEFA staging pilot seminars in these areas this spring.
A pilot UEFA futsal coach education seminar has already taken place at the Royal Spanish Football Federation's (RFEF) Las Rozas complex near Madrid. The objective of the four-day event was to fine-tune futsal coach education criteria at UEFA B licence level by showing essential elements of a futsal coaching course which could be implemented at national level. The course content was based on guidelines stipulated in the UEFA Coaching Convention.
UEFA began to organise European futsal tournaments in the mid-1990s and the sport has advanced rapidly in terms of quality, with coaching and coach education developing alongside it. UEFA runs the UEFA European Futsal Championship for national teams and the UEFA Futsal Cup for club sides.
Three national team coaches gave presentations. José Venancio López, in charge of reigning European champions Spain, talked about futsal teaching methods, tactical skills and leadership; Italy's Roberto Menichelli highlighted individual skills in game situations; and Portugal's Jorge Braz portrayed the organisation and managing of a futsal training session. Practical sessions examined other training aspects of this popular branch of the game.
Course guest Javier Lozano coached Spain to the 1996, 2001 and 2005 European titles and the 2000 and 2004 FIFA Futsal World Cups, and told UEFA.com: "The fundamental objective is to educate and develop further. Coach education is a pretty wide field, and very specific. But [this course] is there to help and support, especially new countries – to support them in their education."
How important is such a learning process for the progression of futsal in Europe? "It's the basis," emphasised Lozano. "Futsal was lacking that in the past and UEFA has now offered this possibility. Education means progress."
Lozano's successor as Spain coach, Venancio López saw future futsal coach education benefits during the four days at Las Rozas, from 26 February. What did he expect to take from the course? "In my case, basically [it's about] how to address the upcoming educators in European football – those who will train coaches," he said.
"I have to learn how to put the football in practice in a way that's much more instructive for educators. I have to approach coaching in a different way. I have to know how to be in a position where you dominate as a coach, while also helping educators understand how the game is."
Venancio López cannot emphasise enough the value of coach education – especially the credo that well-educated coaches help breed good players. "It is crucial. In any walk of life, the way forward is an education process; a continuous process of learning new things every day, which is the basis for futsal's growth, especially at a basic level, so that futsal gets much more importance and players improve their skills and performance. This also helps [young] players be completely formed and ready not only for futsal but also football."
"The biggest lesson is debating ideas, and being here with coaches who are examples," was Jorge Braz's take on the Spanish event. "Apart from teaching the students who are here from other countries, it's also about learning from the lessons, debating ideas and discussing a future structure of coach education at UEFA level – which I think will be extremely important for the evolution of futsal."
"The education of coaches is one of the fundamental issues," concluded Menichelli. "I think there is a real desire to improve coach education by national federations – and above all by UEFA."
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