Coaches set to benefit

The FA is continuing its commitment to improving the prospects of a number of aspiring coaches from the black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community.

The third year of the ‘COACH’ bursary programme was launched at St. George’s Park on Thursday – an initiative designed to help BAME coaches further their qualifications.

Outgoing FA Director of Football Development Sir Trevor Brooking, former Charlton boss Chris Powell and former Tottenham first team coach Chris Ramsey were among the guest speakers at the national football centre as the latest 59 applicants were welcomed onto the scheme.

“It’s positive action to address under-representation”

Brendon Batson on the COACH programme

Brendon Batson, FA consultant on Equality, is leading on the programme and he believes it will help tackle the racial imbalance in the coaching fraternity.

He said: “Clearly there is an underrepresentation from the BAME community within the football structures. The game needed to show a welcoming face.

“We need more coaches across the game and we obviously want to get the best coaches. But because BAME coaches weren’t being recruited how do we know we were getting the best coaches from all sections of the community?”

He continued: “It’s in The FA’s Inclusion & Anti-Discrimination plan that we have to increase the number of BAME coaches and referees. It’s positive action to address this underrepresentation.

“We have done that with female coaches, too. There is an under-representation of female coaches in the game so now we’ve got female-only coaching courses.

“The BAME community is represented on the pitch in terms of players, but not as much within coaching so we needed to address that.”

Two hundred coaches, who have attained at least their Level 2 qualification, have benefitted from this bursary programme over the last two years. It is a joint commitment by The FA, the Premier League, the Football League, the Professional Footballers’ Association and the League Managers’ Association.

‘COACH’ provides a pot of money which goes towards paying for 90% of the participants’ next coaching course, be that the UEFA ‘B’ licence, UEFA ‘A’ licence or a youth award module.

It also aims to find the coaches voluntary work within the academy of a Premier League, Football League or FA WSL club – and a number of them have impressed enough to be kept on in paid roles at clubs such as Millwall, Leyton Orient and Charlton Athletic.

Batson added: “The clubs have been very important to us and have been very supportive in terms of the placements. The coaches get an idea of what it’s like to be in the professional environment and they also get some mentoring on the job.

“We have had about a dozen coaches who have been offered part-time roles within clubs following on from their placement. But even more than that have been kept on in at least a voluntary role.

“We’ve got two coaches at Millwall, who have been extremely supportive of the scheme, and one of those coaches came onto this scheme to do the ‘A’ Licence. But Millwall contacted me and said they believed it would better for the coach and the club if he did the Advanced Youth Award instead.

“Clubs are looking for more coaches from this scheme and that is an example of progress”

 Batson on work placements

“That is a great example of the way the mentoring works. Millwall realised where this particular coach’s qualities lie and wanted to help him further his career in that area.

“The clubs have appreciated having the coaches with them because they come with a different skillset. And the coaches are only being kept on on merit, which is exactly how it should be.

“I know of a couple of clubs who are looking to accept more coaches from this scheme and that is an example of the progress this scheme has made.”

This is the final year the scheme will exist in its current guise, but Batson, a former Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion defender, believes it will continue to go from strength to strength.

He said: “No programme can stay the same so we would like to keep progressing and developing it.

“One of the areas we can look to develop is the use of St. George’s Park as a hub, to help with the personal development of the coaches that are coming through the scheme.

“And I would like to think we can build more of a profile based on the successes of the bursary coaches who have done well at their clubs.

“I would like to showcase some of the successes that the programme has had.”

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