With England just making it to the 2014 World Cup, there are growing concerns about the state of English football. Tom Bennett investigates how our football system compares to our rivals and what the future holds for the national team.
As England fans across the country attempt to grasp indicators of how their nation will perform at this year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil, there is one statistic that broadcasts doom and gloom for England’s chances of lifting a World Cup trophy for the first time in 48 years – the number of coaches.
UEFA data shows that England has 1,395 coaches holding Uefa’s A and Pro qualification badges compared to Germany’s 6,934, Italy’s 2,281, France’s 3,308 and Spain’s whopping 15,423.
Unfortunately for England, these numbers correlate with the amount of appearances in recent World Cup and European Championship finals. Between them, France, Germany, Italy and Spain have provided 11 out of 16 participants in World Cup and European Championship finals since 1998.
But are these statistics accurate? Nick Levett, The FA’s National Development Manager for Youth Football, believes the UEFA Coaching Convention is to blame for England’s poor numbers and it is not a true reflection of the current state of our country’s coaching numbers…
So how does England compare to the other countries across Europe? The interactive map below shows statistics for each European country, offering a short insight into their youth football coaching system and the direction their country’s football is heading.
So what does the coaching pyramid look like in England? What does one have to do to achieve each coaching badge and what does each one offer in terms of progression?
The FA Level 1 award is the entry point into the FA’s coaching ladder for every aspiring football coach. With over 17,000 new coaches every year coming through this programme, it provides a solid foundation for further courses. There are 1500 Level 1 courses available every year, ran by county FA’s at local grounds, schools and leisure centres. Courses vary from provider to provider but run over several days with a total of 32 hours contact time. There is a minimum age of 16 to join this course but no experience is necessary.
Level 2 courses are for more advanced football coaches who are looking to formalize and develop skills or are making the transition from playing into coaching. The course requires 75 hours contact time and gives coaches the skills to create, develop and lead their own drills and sessions. Tactical knowledge and theoretical tuition becomes key at this stage.
The FA Level 3 course was recently redesigned and is now officially the equivalent to the UEFA B Licence. It is a nationally recognized qualification and is designed for those involved in long-term coaching with an official football club. It heightens previous knowledge and links theory with application at a more advanced level. This course seeks to recognize a coaches role in a squad and gives well-rounded knowledge that is highly relevant to coaches working with younger players.
Specifically designed for the 11 v 11 game, the Uefa A licence focuses on all skill-building and coaching techniques. It requires a minimum of 240 hours contact time over a period of 21 days, split into two parts. The application criteria is extensive and prospective participants are encouraged to plan their application well in advance, with evidence of effective use of the level 3 course heavily desired. The course costs around £2,500-£3,300 but this course will try to gauge competency in all key areas of coaching as well as player psychology and performance analysis.
This course is for the game’s very top managers and is only taken by a handful of people every year. Since 2010 it has been a mandatory requirement of every Premier League manager and is designed for those who have been working as a professional coach for a number of years. There is a big emphasis on topics such as football finance, business, employment law and dealing with the media. The course costs around £5,200 but most applicants receive considerable financial help from their respective club.