We all know somebody or have heard stories of somebody that was unsuccessful in obtaining a coaching licence in the past. Rightly or wrongly coaches were and in most cases are still judged on the dreaded final assessment exams. These exams often ruin the learning experience of coaches sitting these courses. Coaches go into courses focused on doing what they have to in order to pass and focusing on information they need in order to do that.
Should a coaching course not be about learning everything possible within the course? should the courses not be structured in such a way that learning and development is the primary focus? How can coaches not be fully involved and focused on taking in every drop of information possible if there is a crucial exam and requirements to pass it coming down the line? How can coaches feel comfortable to question things or give their own input on courses and share their own knowledge if there is a fear factor in doing so because they are speaking with the people assessing a final exam?....Step forward the football association of Ireland AKA the FAI who are one from a handful of associations leading the way with a new approach.
The football association of Ireland under their new coach education manager Niall O'Regan have introduced many new approaches since his appointment back in January of 2016. A lot of these ideas are bold and pioneering ideas, a step away from the beliefs of some people within the game that associations this side of the world are copy cats. Coaching ID cards and a newly structured coaching pathway to suit all coaches with a clear pathway to learning based around the level you are working at are just two examples of the new introductions to the coach education system in Ireland.
It is another change that caught our eye the most and is bound to prove a hit not just with coaches in Ireland but with coaches throughout Europe. No more final assessments to determine if you pass or fail a course!. The FAI now run their courses assessed via progression of learning within the course. At each stage of the course coaches will either reach a satisfactory competency level or they won't, if they don't then a clear learning focus area will have been identified for coaches to improve on before reaching the competency level required. What does this mean? it means coaches will need to focus fully on the overall learning process instead of focusing most of their attention on final exams. The fear factor will leave courses and more people will open up to share and question which can only be a good thing for any learning environment. The old marking scheme for courses which still exists in the majority of European associations is flawed, how can one or a couple of final sessions dictate if someone passes a course or not, many people who may have frozen on the day, who may have had players not willing to carry out instruction within a final exam are just some of many examples that cause frustration among coaches who are unsuccessful in achieving a coaching licence due to a final exam. The FAI have got this new approach right and should be commended and recognised for this. One other interesting approach is also now being put in place.
During Uefa course sessions coaches will be fit with GO Pro camera's. This will eliminate false accusations and arguments about certain situations and in doing so allow coach and tutor to find solutions for progression and improvement to style and methods. All in all promising times ahead for coach education in Ireland. Other nations are also pioneering new approaches to coach education. One stand out approach that caught our attention was the DFB. They base upwards of 50% of their assessments for coaching courses based on the style and methods of the coach.
Whether people like these new approaches or not one thing is certain. Anything that maximizes the learning potential during a coaching course is a step in the right direction.