There was an appeal to the coach's generous nature on the second day of the 8th UEFA Workshop for Coach Education in Athens as presentations on both competence-based learning and the role of the technical director highlighted the need for a selfless streak.
First Nico Romeijn of the Royal Netherlands Football Association and a UEFA Jira Panel member explained the rationale behind competence-based learning and how it has been put into practice in the Dutch context. This approach to education takes the coach educator to the coach's working environment, because the basic tenets are that practical situations are the most conducive to learning; and that the working environment is not only where people learn best, but also the ideal place to assess their development.
Generosity of spirit
French Football Federation technical director Gérard Houllier then stressed the generosity of spirit required for his own role, where success is measured by the achievements of others. In between times, delegates heard about models in further education in Germany, England and Belarus in a series of presentations involving senior German Football Association (DFB) coach educator Bernd Stöber, Howard Wilkinson, chairman of the English League Managers Association, and Belarus national team coach Bernd Stange.
Humility was cited throughout the day as a job requirement along with a commitment to keep on learning in an ever-changing football world. Both these qualities featured in Romeijn's opening talk, Competence-Based Learning, which had as its starting point the trainee coach's own experience. While traditional learning techniques have the student putting study and theory into practice, here relevant experiences come first – they are taken as a framework, reflected upon and consolidated by information or theory, before becoming first planning and then practical sessions. The definition of a competence, the delegates heard, is the right combination of knowledge, skills, attitude and personal characteristics – enabling the coach to put knowledge into practice.
The right questions
Romeijn was joined on stage by the Football Association of Ireland's international high performance director Wim Koevermans who described how the new methods obliged the coach educator to visit students in the field. At the same time, instructors were also having to step back and become almost moderators who supported and, when needed, cajoled their charges with the right questions.
Koevermans went on to say that Phillip Cocu, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Kluivert and Michael Reiziger had recently taken the competence-based learning path to their Pro licence. The former Dutch internationals, he added, had all understood that there is a big difference between being a top player and a top coach, and had also praised the courses as being beneficial to their development as future technicians.
Culture of excellence
If identifying your own strengths and weaknesses will be essential for the coaching candidate, it is no less important to a fully-fledged coach's further education. Wilkinson illustrated in his contribution to the Models in Further Education session how a coach must completely grasp the values or beliefs that define him in order to build a culture of excellence at a club.
Communication and co-operation seemed to underpin many of the programmes being undertaken. For example, Stöber told how the DFB has 30 vans travelling around that country touring clubs to give tips to coaches. Wilkinson spoke of the League Managers Association's online education facility which is approved by the Football Association. Stange revealed how UEFA's coaching infrastructure was supporting Belarus by allowing them to learn from the best thanks to visits from the likes of Fabio Capello, Guus Hiddink and Otto Rehhagel.
For Gérard Houllier, presenting on the Role and Profile of the Technical Director, "the job is always to make other people look good". He advised delegates to strike a balance between humility and ambition while rejecting complacency and arrogance as a blight on the game. His watchword on the subject of coach education: constant improvement.
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